The hang over we had from Rio had our pockets light and beer guts heavy. The theme continued throughout the duration of our time in Brazil, right up to the free drinks on the 1am flight out of Sao Paulo.
We left South America with a clear and concise plan of sobriety and frugalness. Of course this didn’t include our international flight because everyone knows the rule of an international flight. You are obligated to drink as much free alcohol as you possibly can. The reason of course deriving from the fact that the airlines do their best to corner you in a dark ally and violate you for everything you have. Leaving you naked, cold, and broke.
We made the eight-hour skip across the pond with relatively little sleep. It was three in the afternoon by the time we settled into our hostel and the exhaustion was definitely setting in. Our usual duty-free purchase of Jack was intended to be used sparingly and we decided there was no better way to settle into South Africa then a little night-cap and a good long sleep. . .
Four drinks later we decided sleep could wait and went across the street for a steak dinner. It seems that a simple change of country doesn’t automatically change your taste for indulgence. Besides, technically until we go to sleep it is still the same day. . . and we did start the day in Brazil. . .and Brazil budget was blown anyway. . . so we might as well have one last steak and wine dinner. . . and then close the books on Brazil and start fresh. . . right!?
Of course these are rhetorical statements because when both parties are on the same page there is little debate. Filet Mignon and Pinot Noir for two please! By the time we finished up and made it back to the hostel it was close to 9pm. We had been up for just over 35 hours but seemed to catch our second wind. We headed to the hostel bar for a night-cap. As most avid night cappers will note, a night-cap isn’t necessarily the last drink of the night. It is simply a drink you consume after you have reached the point that you probably should have called it a night. For those of you paying attention, this is our second night-cap of the evening.
Both fortunately and unfortunately the bar just so happened to be hosted by the owner of the hostel Heinz. A very polite and humorous Swiss that is heavy on the pour and cheap on the prices. A couple of regulars were there enjoying themselves as well (Nick from Australia and Kurt from South Africa) and the next thing you know it’s a party.
Three thirty in the morning rolls around and my ability to continue the festivities is displayed by my inability to comprehend a single thing that Nick is saying to me. We head off to bed and don’t awake until 2:30pm the next day.
Alright, that’s it. We are done with the shenanigans. It is time to buckle down and end this Rio party. I mean we are five fucking time zones away! Nope, the price is wrong bitch. Our favorite South African, Warren just so happened to be in the area and it was time to relive our night out in San Andres, Colombia, during the first week of our trip. I won’t bother with the details. Just read the post from last time (post from last time). Change Sally’s leap from the dog into Bret and Warrens pathetic attempt to get Bret over the hostel fence and its pretty much the same.
Another late night and another day shot from sleeping in until dinner time. Our to-do list that was going to be easily accomplished during our five-day stint in Joburg just became a little more condensed. Fortunately for us there are some extremely enticing and interesting things to do in Joburg. Otherwise I fear we would have blurred our way right to the Safari.
On our third day we decided to pull our shit together and get out of bed before sunset. During our first night extravaganza, Nick and Kurt highly recommended a tour of SOWETO. This is the area were the black community “congregated” (were pushed to) during the apartheid. Cromwell, a former resident of SOWETO had been running tours of SOWETO for the last 10 years and was highly recommended.
Cromwell picked us up in the morning around 9am. We drove the twenty minutes to SOWETO and received an hour history lesson prior to entering. The tour of the area was interesting but Cromwell was the key factor in making it worth the time and money. We saw the way they live, toured a daycare, went to Nelson Mandela’s old house, and had a traditional lunch of cow head and bap, eaten with our hands. As usual when conducting a tour of this nature, there were the planned situations where stories were told and hands stretched out. The awkwardness and pity out weighing the anger of being set up. Without the information and talent of Cromwell I would have an entirely different perspective of the tour, reminiscent of our time in Peru.
The following day we completed our cultural tour of Johannesburg by visiting the apartheid museum. I normally consider visiting a museum about as fun and interesting as cutting grass with scissors. I have done my best to visit a few over the years, knowing I would be no more wiser or enlightened after leaving then I feel after taking a big, stinky, shit (maybe less). But I strongly believe in the equal rights of all humans that inhabit this earth and feel a connection between the history of South Africa and that of the United States. Sally also had a strong desire to visit the museum and we ended up making it a five and a half hour visit. We read virtually every piece of inscription the museum had to offer. This kind of enthusiasm and interest to read for five hours straight is coming from a guy that has read exactly two books in the last five years (not counting academic literature). Both of those books being read in the last four months while I was on the road and forced to read or hold my breath until I pass out due to boredom. The museum does an exceptional job of encapsulating the history of South Africa and describing the rise and fall of the apartheid.
They also had a temporary exhibit that highlighted the life of Nelson Mandela. Obviously a name that is known all over the world, but to understand the man behind the name really put me beside myself. I actually left the exhibit amazed at one mans ability to persevere, persist, persuade, and accomplish. All while maintaining a state of pure humility. Not just what he did for the non-white community in South Africa, but what he did to unite a nation that spent so many years apart. I firmly believe if we would have had Nelson Mandela as our president to guide the United States out of segregation, we would be now where I hope we are in 50 years, in regards to racial relations in our country.