June 15. We arrived in Johannesburg at 7 a.m., and went to the hotel and once again slept. Amazing how those time changes and treks through customs and immigrations can wear one out! With only one day in Johannesburg we decided to do an afternoon tour with a guide named December. He was born on December 25 but he says he celebrates every day of his life, just because he is alive. He is a Zulu from Botswana; his father was a bushman. We enjoyed December tremendously, and he was extremely informative and friendly. He showed us Nelson Mandela’s home in Johannesburg, and he actually took us Hillsborough, a place just southwest of Johannesburg which is reputed to be the den of drugs and violence in Johannesburg. A terrible tragedy occurred there in 1991, forty people died when fans surged toward a jammed exit to escape rival brawling fans at a football match. The tragedy of drugs and violence around Johannesburg has left its mark, and we were not sorry when we headed back toward our hotel.
December’s major excitement was the new “football” (soccer) stadium being built for the 2010 World Cup. The World Cup in 2010 was talked about by everyone we met in South Africa, stadiums were being built in 4 cities. At the hotel that night football (soccer) fans were all over the streets and in the hotel bar celebrating their win and their beloved “bafana, bafana”. We heard “Bafana, Bafana” everywhere that night, and discovered that it is actually a Zulu term of endearment meaning “our boys”.
We spent our one night in Joburg at a hotel within the Emperor’s Palace Casino area. Of course, I had to go check out the casino (I love to gamble as well as travel). It is a huge complex, and the resort is very, very much like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I wish I could say I hit a big jackpot, but alas, I lost my South African Rand. Sad. They were doing construction while we were there, and this particular photo of the “emperor” cracked us up.
The Empire is Expanding! Good one.