Today (today being Friday) my boss and I went to Johannesburg on a day trip to visit a corporate that is providing grant funding to us to get one of our social enterprises off the ground. The day didn’t start off so well as we were informed upon check-in that our flight was delayed for 100 minutes (wound up being more like 2 hours). So we went to a coffee shop on the second floor and worked through our plan in more detail.
In any event I was excited to see the little of this city that I had heard so much about. I was there last year for a bit after safari (for details you can consult this blog post). Haha, I still don’t know how cricket works! But I got to see a bit more of it today, and all I could think was that it reminded me of LA. So Cape Town reminds me a lot of San Francisco, and Sandton at least is a lot like LA. Very flat, spread out, with a lot of generic-looking houses, office parks, and shops. There is more of a fast-paced culture there than in Cape Town so from that perspective I suppose the comparisons to New York may be apt. I don’t really know: I spent a grand total of about 6 hours there.
We took the much-heralded Gautrain (so-called because it is in Gauteng province, get it?) between the airport and Sandton. This was not nearly as exciting as I had imagined: I was thinking more like bullet train. But apparently it beats driving on the surface roads, and it was certainly efficient enough as these things go.
The meeting went well; it was mainly a relationship-building meeting but we came out of it with a clear understanding of what we need to do over the next several weeks. But our hosts couldn’t have been more welcoming and pleasant to work with. They even provided us with some lunch which was great since we arrived at 1pm and didn’t have time to get any food. I even managed to stick to my strict diet (for the most part, I did eat the deli meat which is not an ideal protein source by any stretch of the imagination but it was the only protein available … as I was busy I had packed nuts and fruit but didn’t have any biltong available).
After the meeting we had some time before our return flight (more time than we anticipated even as this flight was delayed too, by about an hour), so we went to Sandton City. This is apparently the biggest tourist attraction in Sandton, and consists of Nelson Mandela Square and a very large shopping mall. Boy am I glad I don’t live in Joburg. We were amused to see all the people taking photos in front of the Nelson Mandela monument. I was much more excited to catch a glimpse of Patrice Motsepe and his bodyguards (he is one of South Africa’s richest men, and possibly the richest black man, I am not sure).
Oh! But I was very excited to see my first jacaranda trees. The color didn’t really come out but I put up a photo of one of them up above. Beautiful! Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time on this trip to make it up to Pretoria where the jacarandas are apparently everywhere, sort of like the cherry trees in Washington D.C. or Tokyo. Apparently there are some jacarandas around Stellenbosch so I should go back out there at some point to check them out.
The airport was just chaos! They kept moving us from gate to gate, which was very confusing because we were so busy concentrating on our laptops that we kept almost missing what was going on. That is actually the challenge of travelling with someone else: you don’t take as much personal responsibility for paying attention to your surroundings!
We had carpooled to the airport and on my way to take my boss back to his house we encountered a sobriety checkpoint! This was very exciting because I had never been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint before, in any country. And on this occasion I hadn’t had a drop to drink all day (I had sparkling water at Sandton City thank you very much!), which all in all is definitely the best time to get pulled over by the police! Following this I went home to do about 45 minutes of trigger point massage/ball rolling. My foot injury is healing well, which is comforting.
All in all, a good day though. It was nice to have the luxury of time to talk through a lot of things. It’s actually a great situation that we have where the people I work with closely are people that I can learn from, and they can learn from me, and we happen to be similar enough and yet different enough that we complement each other well.