Katja Lachmann


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The first days in South Africa


I arrived safely on Tuesday morning at 7:25 in Johannesburg. I was waiting about 5-6 hours for being picked up from Augustas and could hardly stay awake. I was so tired after 5 days kind of NO SLEEP that I was happy to find a bench and had no more wish then to sleep.

I did not feel at all like arriving in South Africa. It was not just because of the lack of sleep, it was more that if living in Berlin, Germany, I am kind of used to have an international environment. People of all colours, and it was not different to Johannesburg airport. I felt save, but when being picked up, going with a crazy driver to the hostel, I was starting to get confused. Arriving in the hostel, I was still happy, even that we were told no to go out by foot. We rested a bit and then went shopping. But not as you are imagining, with walking relaxed around the streets, watching what offers they have got in the windows...not at all. We had to wait for being brought to a nearby shopping center, about 3 km from the hostel. After shopping we planned to go by taxi, but it was with 40 Rand (5 Euro) for 3 km a bit too expensive. Thus we called to the hostel and they - after a very while - came, picked us up and brought us home safe. We could not believe what is happening and believe me, you get really confused that this is possible out in the world.

The next day, we still could not believe it is so dangerous just to go out on street and to have a walk, we decided to go outside for buying something. We went to the nearby supermarket and went back. Everything was allright, no negative encounter with nobody, just very few people on the street. When being back in the hostel two Spanish guys arrived and planned to go out buying a bus ticket to Maputo. They were already warnt and were waiting for a ride from the hostel owner. As they were waiting already for a very long time, they decided to go outside and give it a try to go by foot. When they were coming back we got to know they were ROBBED. Eight guys were surrounding them, and asking for their money. They searched their body for having guns, took the money and then walked away very fast...imagine that. It happily did not happen to us, but now we were sure it is not a good idea to go out. The hostel staff was strange, too, but we think it is because of the difficult way of living in Joburg.

The next day we went by bus to Klerksdorp, a little city near Joburg. It was very expensive, with about 115 Rand (16,4 Euro) but definitely safe. We stayed with an artist family what was very interesting. They are great people here, we got fantastic food and learned a lot about the history of Southern Africa. Imagine the Grandfather, Father and Son talking at the same time with all their heart about the difficulties they had to face in history - and they are still facing.

Today we will leave to Krugersdorp, a city near Joburg, too. We will stay with a woman we found through www.couchsurfing.com.