Sunday, January 21, 2007

Update 1/21/2007

Entry: 1/19/07

Today has been my first semi-bad day in Africa South Africa. (As anyone who knows me or has been reading this blog for sometime knows, it is certainly not the first time I've had a bad day in Africa!)

The day started out well enough. I packed up all of my belongings, checked the internet one last time and said my goodbyes to the people at the Transvaal Museum. DOOM gave me one of his replicas of Mrs. Ples that he's been marketing around which was so SO nice of him. He called a taxi for me and helped me with my stuff out to the front of the museum to wait for it.

And wait we did. And wait. And wait. Taxi finally showed up 15 minutes late. My driver was not particularly good. He played Jesus music at top volume in the car and did not know his way around. Instead, he chose to rely on me - an American - to tell him how to get from point A to point B. When the taxi driver got to Point B, he halfheartedly tried to lift my suitcase out of his trunk, but he couldn't quite manage it. I had to haul it out instead.

Point B was the Incaranga Ranch Resort, a place that sounded awesome from the guidebook. Looked close enough to Jo'burg, was purportedly safe, and situated on some lovely grounds with duck pond and swimming pool and restaurant, and horse-back riding and internet. The truth is a bit south of there, I'm afraid. It is North of the city. They would not help me negotiate taxi fare, and instead said that I'd have to use their taxi service to get to and from the Unviersity at R200 EACH WAY. That's about 50 dollars per day for taxis. The rooms are not safe; not all of the lights work, all of windows are open to the outside, the lock is practically falling out of the door. Because all of the windows open out to the outside, there are craploads of mosquitos in here that are currently eating me alive. The staff is loud and unhelpful -- I used the internet and the man behind the desk stood impatiently looking over my shoulder so he could get back to watching football. The bartender was too busy playing a slot machine to take money for my bottle of water, and the restaurant was deserted. No diners, no waitresses. But really, the safety issue is what bothers me the most. When I am travelling with my computer and camera equipment and microscribe, the ONLY thing I look for in a hotel/hostel/guesthouse/whatever is safety. I want to feel like I can leave my computer in my room and not have it be gone when I get back. Lack of safety was one of the reasons I switched hotels in London last year.

I've already made arrangements to stay elsewhere from tomorrow night on. The woman I talked to on the phone was very nice, and it sounds like a better place to be, so hopefully all will be well.

PS: Getting a SIM card for my phone was the smartest thing I've ever done. It's been so convenient to be able to call ahead for reservations and things.


The new place is quite nice - reminds me a bit of the place I stayed at in Birchington-on-Sea.
The taxi driver once again didn't know how to get from point a to point b and likely would have driven around in circles all day if I hadn't phoned for directions. The owner is a bit loopy - makes veiled racist comments (not particularly uncommon around here) and thinks that she was a native america in a past life (a bit more uncommon). She had a birthday party last night which I attended, in which I met a woman who is into new age metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. Very odd.

The other people who are staying here are also quite nice. One of the girls has malaria and I feel for her acutely. Went for a walk to "chinatown" today. DC's chinablock looks grand in comparison to the half block of dilapidated buildings. I had some chinese food for lunch and it was mediocre at best. Looking forward to getting my work done and going to Cape Town.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you haven't had much joy with lodges in Jo'burg. Perhaps try Diamond Diggers - have heard reasonable things about them. Where did you move to after Inchanga?