Joe and I woke up ridiculously early one Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day. Joe had an idea for an outing but wouldn’t tell me what it was. He ushered me into the car and we headed up the M1 toward Pretoria.
When I saw this granite monolith staring down at us, I realized Joe was taking me to the Voortrekker Monument.
Die Voortrekkermonument. (It’s all one word in Afrikaans.) Voortrekker, which means ‘pioneer’, is pronounced ‘FOUR-trecker’, with a rolled R that I can’t replicate.
Pretoria, which sits just north of Joburg, is smaller and tamer than its neighbor to the south. Some Joburgers consider Pretoria to be a boring backwater, while many Pretorians see Joburg as a crowded, wild place that’s best avoided. (I grew up near Baltimore, Washington D.C.’s northern neighbor. A similar rivalry exists between those two cities.)
Pretoria City Hall, one of many historic buildings in Pretoria.
Pretoria is the capital of South Africa. Well, sort of. The country actually has three capitals: Pretoria, where the president is; Cape Town, where the Parliament is; and Bloemfontein, where the courts are. Sort of. South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, actually sits in Joburg. But Joburg isn’t one of the capitals. Go figure. Continue Reading
A few months ago I attended my first cricket match and learned that cricket is not a game for sissies. Yesterday I discovered rugby is not for sissies, either.
I’ve watched rugby on TV before, and I’ve seen Invictus. But nothing prepared me for the moment after the whistle blew, when I watched a guy catch the ball, run for a few seconds, and get slammed to the turf by a 1500-pound mob of muscle. Without pads or a helmet.
My sports photography leaves a lot to be desired, but you get the idea.
Sandwiched between a week in Durban and a week in Lesotho, Joe and I are wrapping up one hectic (but fun) week at home.
We’re leaving again tomorrow morning and I have no time to write a proper account of this week’s events. Here is a brief synopsis.
1) We had our first overseas visitor: my colleague Evan Von Leer from Washington D.C. He spent a few days with us in Melville while on his way to Lesotho and stayed at the Die Agterplaas B&B, which is a block up the street. The Agterplaas is a great guesthouse – I would stay there myself if I didn’t already live here. Continue Reading
Yesterday Joe and I went to Pretoria to run some errands. We had to visit vendors and pick up a few things for a photo exhibition we’re planning. One such errand brought us to a suburban highway lined with strip malls and big-box stores. It reminded me of home.
I saw a sign that said “Wonderboom” and asked Joe what it was. “It’s a tree,” he said. He decided to show me – we turned off the road into the Wonderboom Nature Reserve.
We parked in the reserve’s near-empty lot and headed up the path toward the Wonderboom. “There it is,” Joe said, and pointed ahead. I was confused; what I saw ahead looked like an entire forest. That forest was the Wonderboom. Continue Reading
I’m in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, about an hour’s drive from Joburg. I’m sitting on the terrace of the Sheraton Hotel, sipping a double espresso and watching the action across the road.
View of Pretoria from the Union Buildings.
Across the road are the century-old Union Buildings, the seat of the South African government. It’s a complex of bronze-colored brick buildings at the top of a steep hill. Below it are acres of terraced gardens with spring flowers blooming. Below the gardens is a vast green field, where 30,000 South African civil servants are gathered. They’re on strike today. Continue Reading