safe and sound and acting as a squatter in someone elses home
I have arrived safely and successfully in Jo'burg - but without suitable housing ... hmm. Fortunately Stuart (a relative of my Aunt's) lives here with his wife Marion and they have been incredibly generous. They picked me up at the airport showed me all around the city, fed me, and have let me stay at their home. I also met Jimmy and Shelia (more of Felicity's relatives) and they made a wonderful breakfast for me and Stuart after leaving the airport. So I have many good contacts here to give me help and guidance.
The food I've had here so far is great and very inexpensive - I had a large meal (think the different courses of an Olive Garden meal with one of their nicer dinner entrees as well as desert and drinks) for what amounts to only about $8.00 at home! I think I'm in heaven.
The racial disparity here is very obvious right off the bat - even more so than we could contemplate in the States (not to say that we don't have a large problem of racial disparity as well of course) and the number of people standing in and around the streets to get drivers and pedestrians to buy things is absolutely a phenomenal amount compared to our standards in the States. However, I've learned from Stuart that this is not begging in the way that we have in the States. First almost everyone is typically actually selling some merchandise (maps, sunglasses, cell phone accessories etc.) and not just begging for money. Second, he tells me it is a very African way of moving retail merchandise that is legal and mostly not stolen goods being pushed. Of course in the states if I see someone walking around selling sunglasses I automatically think they had a friend or cousin that works at the Wal-Mart loading dock and a box "went missing" to them, but that is not what is going on here. Retail people legitimately give out these products to be sold inexpensively and then the vendors make a commission on the sales.
What I've seen of the country absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. There is just open space here like people must have dreamed about back in the cowboy days and the move to the 'wild west' in the USA. The city itself is of course crowded like any other city but as we were flying over and I was coming into Jo'burg below you all you saw was wide open space. And of course in the States places that are open still look very controlled because they are perfectly square/rectangular plots of land in varying shades of green from farming, at least mostly, i know there is still some openness out West (grand canyon etc.) But then the soil here is a different color - redder and the vegetation is a deeper darker green ... I've already become very interested in birds also b/c they have so many and so many magnificent looking ones that have such beautiful songs. I woke up this morning to birds outside my window making the most beautiful symphony ...
More later we are suddenly off now - must go purchase the ability to make a phone call !! (cell phone or sim card not sure which yet) Love to all
~M Picaddilly Circus Sign in the Tube tunnel Big Ben Me on the Double Decker