It was a balmy 83 degrees when we landed. Paradise.
The evening brought a stunning show of thunder, lightning and heavy rains.
Delta Airlines out of Atlanta got us to Johannesburg in 15 hours. It was our first lengthy international flight on a domestic carrier. We were pleased.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was lined with big beautiful homes behind tall concrete fences with 18” of electrical wiring at the top.
Unbeknownst to us our hotel was located in Melrose Arch – a new walkable urban development that has hotels, shops, restaurants/bars and condo living. It’s all completely fenced with lots of security guards wandering about. It didn’t feel like the “real” Johannesburg but allowed us to walk around feeling safer. We ventured out to explore during the day.
Unfortunately my camera stayed in the hotel room as we explored the city. I got disciplined twice by a hotel worker in Rosebank for having my cellphone out. The second warning came with his head turning tisk tisk for being so careless. Clearly he didn’t understand that I needed to use Uber.
Like all big cities around the world Johannesburg aka Joburg, Jozi and the City of Gold is bustling. Sidewalks are lined with people on the move and gridlock traffic is a nuisance.
It’s a new city – started only a 137 years ago by the discovery of gold. Once the top gold producer in the world and currently it holds the honor of having the deepest gold mine extending 2.5 miles underground. Some sister love to our home state of Nevada which produces 78% of all gold mined in the United States.
Joburg also has the honor of having the largest “urban” man made forest in the world with over 10 million trees! It’s remarkable.
Strange are the number of abandoned buildings. We were told that redevelopment plans were halted by covid but it looks like any hope of anything stopped long ago.
Nelson Mandela is revered by the world but his presence here was palpable. We toured his home in Soweto. Bullet holes pock mark the siding and the remants of an interior wall built by Winnie to shield their children speak of the dangerous time.
There is so much to learn and absorb in this place so terribly victimized by apartheid, poverty and crime. It is all very heart wrenching.
Exploring lends to curiosity, which lends to investigating, which lends to learning, which broadens my knowledge.
The privilege of meeting locals makes it all so worthwhile.