Friday, 22 February 2008

Egoli - Place of Mould

The first 4 days of our holiday were spent in Jozi with Shoes' family. Before I met him, Shoes lived with them for 7 months before deciding he had to return to Cape Town or cut out his own eyes with a blunt steak knife. I have family up there too, on my mom's side, and I distinctly remember the pit of despair I regularly tumbled into whenever it was announced that we were driving up to visit them (those were the days before Kulula, when plane tickets for a family of four cost more than Dad's monthly salary). Suffice it to say, both of us detest Jo'burg. No offence to those who live there... I quite understand why many Capetonians choose that path. If you have any ambition whatsoever and actually want to make more than survival money, 9 times out of 10 it is a very necessary move. After all, as everyone knows, people in CT are so relaxed they're practically horizontal, and this is not conducive to money-making. As for those people who own houses in Llandudno and Camps Bay... you know they didn't make their money in CT! However, empathy aside, Shoes and I long ago decided that if we can't live in Cape Town, we won't bother coming home. Hardcore stance, I know, but we're hardcore Kaapies, and besides, we've got the mooouuntain bru. Apologies, but since the rest of SA likes to act like we're all a bit batty about our mountain, I felt I should oblige.

So, anytime we have to make the trip up north (or down south in this case) to visit his family, we're filled with mixed feelings. We've overjoyed at the prospect of seeing them, of course - luckily for me, they all love me and I feel as at home with them as I do with my own. But we're also miffed by the idea of wasting time in Jozi when we could be on the beach (or the mountain) in CT.

This time was no exception. Jozi to me really defines the Third Worldness of SA. I know I may have many detractors here, but while CT looks for the most part like a tropical paradise, Jozi is all crumbling, pot-holed roads, powerless traffic lights and filth lining the streets. And let's not even mention the traffic light beggars dragging their blind (or pretending to be) compatriots in the path of your car, forcing you to screech to a death-defying halt, and then expecting you to hand out some hard-earned cash. How is it that they think your sympathies are likely to be heightened when you just about have to kill your passengers in order to miss them? No ja, ek se.

After being in London for nearly a year and a half, we were a bit shocked driving back from OR Tambo to Sandton, where the Shoes live. It's not that we've forgotten that we're only squatting in the First World, but things do change and in this case, it was evidently for the worse. Luckily, the Shoes live in a place called Linbro Park, which is sort of like a gated community with lots of horse stables. It looks more like a big green farm with houses and trees than a suburb in the middle of Jozi. Shoes' sister BlackVelvet and her boyfriend T both ride dirt bikes, and have recently bought their little girl, Flea, a mini one. On our first day there, Shoes and T had great fun racing up and down the streets, and we had even more fun laughing at them as they came screaming around corners, T on his adult sized scrambler and Shoes on Flea's miniature pink one, his knees up around his ears.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house and braaing - something which we just couldn't get enough of the whole holiday. Although we do braai regularly in London in summer, it's not the same because a) we have to braai on our balcony, rather than in a yard, b) our braai is gas-powered, and the meat just doesn't taste as good and c) we often end up braaing in the rain as summer declines to make an appearance.

On Sunday we went to Sun City; for Shoes and I it was our first time ever. I thought we'd have to wait until CT before we could lie on the beach and catch a tan, so imagine my delight when we arrived at a fully kitted out fake beach, complete with sand, palm trees and a massive wave pool known as the Valley of the Waves. Now ever since Shoes and I became obsessed with Barry Hilton, a South African comedian, some years ago, we've wanted to visit the Valley of the Waves. In one of his gigs, Barry does a whole bit on what it's like to swim in this wave pool. We've parodied him ever since, and it was like some sort of Mecca, finally visiting the site of our numerous jokes. We were therefore a little disappointed to find that it seemed Barry had been exaggerating. Rather than demi-tidal waves, we watched as the pool coughed up a couple a ripples, looking for all the world like the Valley of the Swells. We all went in, and stood around waiting for the action. BlackVelvet and I, dragging a rather timid Flea deeper and deeper, ignored the child's pleas to remain in the shallows.... what harm could these swells do, we told her. Apparently a lot if you were caught unawares. Within minutes of us entering the pool, the wave machine flexed its muscle and showed us why it was so named. After the first one had knocked all three of us off our feet, we finally heeded Flea's pleas and took her back into the shallows, coughing up water as we went.

The rest of the day passed in a blur of waterslides (used either with or without giant blow-up tubes), cocktails and lying in direct sunlight before 3pm without sunscreen.... without fail we do it at the beginning of every holiday, and without fail we burn to a crisp and spend the next week peeling like lemons. When you've been in the UK this long, you start to get genuinely afraid that your skin has lost the ability to tan, and you tend to go to stupid lengths to prove your theory wrong.

All in all, the four days we spent in Jozi with the Shoes were among the best of our holiday (people-wise, not place). The only negative was the guilt we felt in leaving them.... we simply don't have enough time to spend with them and we're accutely aware of this fact. Little Flea was in floods of tears at the airport, causing us both to check in on our Kulula flight with tear-streaked faces of our own. If nothing else, it's the strongest incentive to return to SA within the next few years.

1 comment:

sweets said...

i can sense the bitter sweet in your writing. it is sad, family is huge. enjoy your time in the UK, but do come back! Saffa out :)