I woke up early and hungry. Could still feel some pains on my body from the previous day’s stress traveling all the way from Beira to Johannesburg. To add to my frustration, the sim card I purchased the previous night has not yet been able to connect to the internet. Johannesburg was very cold that morning – it was 6 degrees centigrade. I was happy I had a bathtub in the bathroom of my room at the guest house. A good way to forget the misery of not having the internet I thought would be to soak myself in there at least for 30 minutes or so before I could go out to find food and seek assistance to get my phone connected.
I was able to eventually get the phone working after I had called the network’s Customer Service Center – I got the number on the sim pack. My visit to South Africa this time was basically to write a professional examination. I had wanted to do tourism but it was secondary. Also, most times, when I get to countries that are very cold, I spend 2 to 3 days indoors before eventually coming outside to do tours. I only have 3 days in South Africa before I leave back to Lagos, hence I did not bother to visit several places. Except a few places at Cape Town.
Another reality that dawned on me was that my laptop has been faulty all the while I was travelling. I have been busy jumping from one country to another and there was no way to do any revision for my professional examination which was meant to be done the next day. Because of this, I planned I was not going to any more tourist attraction. The plan for the day was just to rest for the exams and then visit the venue of the exams for familiarization.
For breakfast that morning, one of the staff at the guest house advised me some Nigerians sell street food somewhere down the street. I had also decided to stay at the guest house till it is time to check-out time since my only destination that day was the examination center.
“Bia, o kwa ubọchi kam ga na-akuzịrị gị ka esi etinye nri n’afele a?” …the lady queried the man who would be in his late 40s. First of all, I was very much excited I saw a real Nigerian delicacy – rice with tomato stew and meat. It was no proper canteen. The food was sold in a wheel barrow but it was well prepared and cheap compared to other meals I had bought during this trip. It was only 25 Rand ($2). I was a bit bothered the manner the lady who was the ‘madam of the business’ talked to her staff who was obviously older than her. She was scolding him for not serving my food the way she had taught him earlier to serve food for her clients. This scene still replays itself on my head whenever I hear people struggling to travel out from their countries to other places especially when they do not have any form or profession or handiwork they do. Most times, some would go to settle for menial jobs and get insulted this way or get themselves involved in crime.
That breakfast was super. I still dream of eating it again. It was the only meal I ate for that day. I got back to the guest house and then left for Johannesburg,
I got may baggage and headed to the Kampton Taxi Park which was a walking distance from the guest house. I then got another 17 Rand taxi going to Johannesburg CBD. South Africans refer to public buses as taxis. We arrived the Central Business District (CBD) of Johannesburg which was the final stop. I noticed so many Nigerians and Igbo people – my tribe. In fact, some of the shops were playing Igbo songs so loud that I was a bit worried why they would play music that loud.
Lots of Nigerians, especially my Igbo brothers from my observations are too loud abroad. They can play music and turn the volume so loud. Or in some cases, you need to see where we are having a conversation. It’s often too loud. In once situation I was abroad on a different trip, it was around 10 o’clock at night and everywhere was quiet except for a few people conversing in one of the Nigerian popular language I will not want to mention here.
I utilized the moment to purchase a cheaper wall socket. The one I saw at the airport was selling for almost 200 Rand while I bought one on the street for 15 Rand. I also got some food and checked out some hotels and guest houses. I eventually decided I would settle for an Airbnb apartment when I was done for the day.
Leaving the CBD, I took another taxi for 10 Rand to Rivonia where the examination center was located. On arrival, the exam center staff received me very well. When asked of where I was staying, they recommended some places where I would end up paying almost about $70 USD after I converted the rates. I politely refused and told them I had some other plans.
There were several other things I noticed on the road going back to the Airbnb reservation I made in Orange Groove. When you order a taxi using an app like Uber or Bolt, the driver on arrivals would suggest if you would prefer to do an offline trip. Doing a trip offline simply means finding out the estimated cost for the ride on the app and then subtracting a little of that amount on the total fee the customer will pay. Let’s say for instance in one of the cases, I was meant to pay 180 Rand from Shell Garage in Rivonia to Orange Groove. We settled for 155 Rand or so. In three different rides I used over there, we made deals like this and it was a win-win for the both of us.
The next day was the D-day. The former taxi that dropped me off the previous day was meant to come around to pick me up from my Airbnb in Orange Groove back to Rivonia, Sandton. I also noticed something about that Rivonia. I saw several IT companies and startups. Even the Company I was writing the exams with, a technology company is located there. Wikipedia captures it this way: ‘Rivonia is a suburb of Johannesburg in the Sandton area. It is located in Region E of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. Rivonia is one of the most affluent residential and business suburbs of Johannesburg, and regarded as the hub of upstart and established I.T. companies. The main retail thoroughfare in the area, Rivonia Boulevard, is the location of several shopping complexes as well as many other shops and restaurants.’ It’s even said it is the richest square mile in Africa because of the discovery of Gold in Sandton. This is probably the reason I was asked to pay almost $70 USD for a guest house around there.
The exams lasted for two and half hours. The questions were relatively simple and I finished just before the time, I felt a sort of relief and got back to my adventurous mood. I was considering visiting Soweto to see Mandela’s birthplace or just roaming the city to see friendly sights. I finally decided I was to go to visit Lanseria International Airport from where I would be taking off to Cape Town the next day.
I had decided to visit Cape Town for two major reasons. First, my mentor in both technology and travelling, Michael Noel was in town. He was the one that personally inspired me to travel as much as I can do and also got me to start writing travel stories or blog. He was on vacation to Cape Town and I thought it would be good to see him and catch up with past times. So I headed to the airport.
A few people I asked for directions probably misunderstood the airport I meant to be O.R. Tambo International Airport which is the biggest airport in South Africa and Africa. So from Sandton, I was asked to get to Alexandria and then take a taxi to the Airport. On Google Maps, we were getting closer at one point but then later the reverse was the case. To cut the long story short, I found myself at the OR Tambo! A grave error.
In any case, since I had taken all my bags and luggage, I decided to see if I could change the flight I had for the next day for that same day so I could fly and save some money going back to the airport the next day. I was to fly with Mango. The Mango was in Terminal 2 so I had to walk way down to the terminal. At the entrance, a fat tall lady who was well dress like a security approached me and requested for my boarding pass and asked me which airline I was flying. Being a bit confused and not knowing if she did that on her own capacity or for the airline, I allowed her. The way she acted and was answering sir each time I said something got me thinking she was doing it for a reward. At the end, when she found out my boarding pass was not to fly, they now told me I could give her anything as a gift but that it is not compulsory. I would not give her anything as I did not have enough money with me at the time.
The airline required I paid an additional $80 which was the same amount I had paid for a return ticket from Cape Town. I was not buoyant enough to afford the extra charges so, I decided to forget the trip till the next day.
A friend had earlier requested me to visit a friend of his who is a South African. After my exams, I felt it would be good to see more of the city at night so I called him at this point and he told me I could come over to his residence at the Johannesburg CBD.
Thulasizwe was a very kind gentleman. Getting into his apartment required I submit my passport or a valid means of identification to the security on the ground floor of his apartment – a block of more than 25 floors.
I entertained the thoughts of going out that evening but I was very tired. I decided to sleep early so as to be able to meet my 7 o’clock flight to Cape Town.