10/27/09: Johannesburg, South Africa
We departed the Acacia truck after our final drive and with one final look over our shoulders (and a tear in each of our eyes) and we said goodbye to our temporary home.
Two minutes later we returned to grab our bags. I hate prolonged goodbyes.
I’ve been looking forward to today for some time now, because as much as I’ve enjoyed our Acacia tour (and I would recommend it to anyone), I’ve been ready to begin traveling on our own. Zhou’s done so much good planning, and I’ve been itching to carry lots of bags in order to get some long overdue exercise.
Before moving onto the next phase of the trip though, this past week I did learn another lesson that I’d like to share with everyone, especially the kids. “If you must judge, be prepared to budge.” (Do you think that one will catch on?)
I really didn’t give our six finishing days on the Kavango truck much of a chance. After all we had come from the mighty Zambezi truck! No one could cook as good as Marietjie, no one could drive as good as Richard, and no people could possibly replace the Zambezi group. Things just weren’t going to be any fun. While I’m not saying that our old truck has been surpassed, we did meet some nice new people, especially our guides, Mark and Lindi. My only two regrets now are that I prejudged that they wouldn’t be as good as our old guides and that we weren’t able to spend longer in their truck.
So on to the individual part of the world trip: 278 days of just me and Zhou! Our first act as our own travelers: checking into a hostel, the Ritz Backpackers of Johannesburg.
We’re staying in an 18 person dorm room (9 bunk beds) for 100 ZAR per person per night (~$13 each, but we had a small discount because of our ISIC card). I won’t lie, we are breaking into hostel life easily, as we know the other 13 people in our room for tonight, but it’s still something new for us. When was the last time you slept in a room with 13 other people?
The Ritz is very nice (although it doesn’t live up to its American counterpart’s name) and it’s actually in a safe part of Johannesburg. Going into today, I was very nervous about Zhou and I alone in this city where all people do is rob and murder each other, but we both feel very safe here. There’s a nice bakery nearby, an upscale mall and several nice restaurants. It actually reminds me a little of home. But don’t worry Mom and Dad, we won’t be settling down here. Two days until Hong Kong!
Picture of the Day: As contemporary as South Africa feels, for some reason Vanilla Ice is still the front page picture of the Business Times.