I almost didn’t go to South Africa, but I did. It is a beautiful country, with loads to do.
Sadly reports of the crime rates make one paranoid. It didn’t help; that I was planning to visit at the height of one of the many xenophobic attacks. So when I told my family I was going to be in Pretoria, a city where a lot of the attacks were happening and was being heavily reported by the media, they were concerned. It also didn’t help that I was travelling by road from Swaziland to South Africa and had no Internet to connect to catch an Uber to my hotel in Pretoria. But I didn’t need to worry at all, because things did work out in the end and that is another story for another day.
The good news is, I was not caught out in the senseless attacks, neither did I witness any. I was based in Hatfield, one of the safe neighbourhoods in Pretoria.
I stayed in a beautiful family run hotel the first day and then moved to a hostel the next day,
to connect with other travellers, be closer to the centre and of course, save money.
I wanted to go to Johannesburg, but the mere mention of Johannesburg, just changes the look and demeanour on most peoples faces and this just sends a seasoned traveller like me into panic mode. Everyone; residents included warned me to either not go to Johannesburg, or be very alert. This unsettled me, but there was no way I was going to cancel Johannesburg when I had already taken Cape Town off the list because my time in South Africa was going to be a short one.
My superhuman friend Hendri, who I met on Instagram at least a year before I travelled, was so kind and helpful.
Hendri drove and showed me around his beautiful city of Pretoria, he organised his friends and super creative sister for us to have a little picnic in Pretoria Botanical gardens and had deep and light conversations about careers, life and Africa.
The plan was to be based in Pretoria and then go to Johannesburg for a day or two. Hendri, of course, introduced me to his friend Bongani who I met in Joburg and did a red double-decker tourist bus tour of the city of Joburg with
(Oh! On my way to Joburg, I met Nomsa, who strangely was coming from the Ghanaian Embassy in Pretoria because she was applying for a visa to come for her sister’s wedding in Ghana. What are the odds? I found out because I just wanted to be sure I was going to the right train station. Well, she noticed I wasn’t South African. Ah! Another story for another day, I guess)
You should definitely do the red bus tour if you have little time and you don’t feel too safe.
We visited a few malls and South Africa is definitely the Mall Mecca of Africa.
I came back to Pretoria and connected with a few of Hendri’s friends and had the most amazing pizza with banana toppings, thanks to Hendri.
Did I mention Hendri is superhuman? Well, he is. He not only invited me to an amazing concert, he drove me all the way to Joburg airport after the concert late at night so I could catch my flight, although he had had a long day at work and also had an early start the next day.
South Africa inspired me in many ways and I look forward to taking action on the inspiration. I also look forward to going back and connecting with my friends.