A big thank you to travelgurus.co.za and Wilderness Adventures for making this blog post possible. Last weekend I visited Kruger National Park, the largest park in South Africa. This wasn’t just any old Kruger safari, either. I went to the remotest and most beautiful section of the park — the Pafuri Triangle. A view of the Limpopo River, just before my plane landed at Pafuri Camp. The Pafuri Triangle is in the far northern corner of the Kruger Park, wedged between the Limpopo and Luvuvu Rivers and the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
There was a total lunar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere tonight. Joe and I went to an eclipse-viewing party at a friend’s house. Here are some funky (i.e., blurry) photos of the evening. Full moon above Joe’s friend Neville’s house. This is the perfect time of year to watch a lunar eclipse in Joburg because the sky is crystal clear nearly every night.
A few months ago, I promised to write periodic posts about Melville guesthouses, restaurants, and shops. I’ve strayed from that commitment — the majority of my posts these days are about the Joburg city centre or more far-flung places outside of town. So today I’m getting back to my roots. Melville is one of Joburg’s wackiest neighborhoods; it straddles a divide between tree-lined suburbia and urban grittiness. Melville is constantly changing — there are always quirky new places to visit, along with well-loved old standbys. I’m not a Melville tourist, but I’ve just spent a few days wandering around pretending I am. Here is a recommended itinerary for a one-day visit to the place I call home in Jozi.
I’m leaving town for a few days and probably won’t have internet access. Before I go, I want to share a few recent pictures from the garden at the Lucky 5 Star. Before moving to South Africa, the only aloes I’d ever seen were aloe vera plants — droopy house plants that people keep around for when they burn themselves. Here there are hundreds of different kinds of aloes, ranging from small, cabbage-sized plants to massive trees. I’ve also recently learned that aloes grow tall, flaming orange blooms in early winter.
Before I start, let me alert you to a guest post I wrote for a blog called “Notes From Africa”: What Your Cat Wants to Know: An American Ex-pat Perspective. It’s a departure from my normal subject matter — please check it out and browse through Lisa’s lovely blog while you’re at it. Thanks again, Lisa! Easter Monday was the first nice day we’ve had here in weeks. The air was balmy, the sky was azure, and the clouds looked like that gauzy cotton that people stretch across doorways on Halloween. Hiking was necessary. We considered going to Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, a park in southern Joburg that we visited a few months ago. But while searching online for a Kliprviersberg trail map (which I never found), I stumbled upon a listing for Kloofendal Nature Reserve on the western outskirts of the city. Joe had heard of Kloofendal but never been. We decided to give it a try.
Joe and I drove along a bucolic country road in the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site 45 minutes outside Joburg. It was a sunny afternoon. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going. We’d heard there was a large sculpture park out this way and we wanted to check it out. We came upon a gate that said “NIROX.” Our map said this was the place. But the gate was closed and locked. After some internet surfing and a few phone calls, we learned that the NIROX Sculpture Park is only open to the public for special exhibitions and events. NIROX is a private foundation created to cultivate the arts in South Africa. The foundation is set on 15 hectares of land, filled with trees and wildlife and gurgling streams. In addition to the outdoor sculptures, which blend seamlessly with the landscape, NIROX also provides accommodation for artists in residence who stay for a few weeks at a time.
I’m melancholy. Bad things are happening everywhere and I feel overwhelmed by life. But it’s nice to know that no matter what, the sun keeps rising and setting. One of the advantages to my current 9-5 schedule is that I’m sometimes awake early enough to see the sunrise. I caught this one last week in our backyard. Even those ugly industrial buildings (I think they’re part of Johannesburg Hospital) look beautiful at that time of day.
Joe and I took a walk through Joburg’s Central Business District – starting at the Carlton Centre and then east on Main Street to the Magistrates Court. A view of downtown from Gandhi Square. The Carlton Centre is the building to the left of the Daily Sun sign. You wouldn’t know from this picture but it’s the tallest building in Africa at 223 meters.
Yesterday afternoon Joe and I drove to a gritty downtown neighborhood dotted with auto body shops and Chinese takeout joints. We followed the signs to “Arts on Main,” parked just off Main Street under a concrete overpass, and followed an old mining rail track into a warehouse. Outside Arts on Main, in the eastern part of Joburg’s Central Business District. (Photo courtesy of Joe.)
South Africa is not known for pizza, and you certainly won’t find authentic New York- or Chicago-style pies here. (I recently saw a Facebook photo of someone eating Ray’s Pizza in New York. It looked so delicious — I nearly wept.) But there is pretty decent pizza to be had in Melville. I’ve become a fan of two restaurants, both of which serve pizza of the ultra-thin-crust variety. The atmosphere of both places will give even the coolest New York pizzeria a run for its money. My top pick is the Ant, which I described briefly in a previous post. I didn’t get back with my camera until today though, and the essence of the Ant is best conveyed through pictures.