Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’


It is a strange feeling to come back to a country where you once lived and you aware that you are now a visitor. The advantage being that you savour all that was once familiar……the African sunsets, a late thunderstorm and the warmth of friends. 

As a ‘visitor’ I took the shuttle service up to Sandton City, one of the largest shopping centres in the Southern Hemisphere. I climbed up the staircase and was greeted by the massive statue of our great Mr. Nelson Mandela. He has such presence even in bronze. I was one of many who had stopped at his feet to gaze up at him. The square was adorned with a touch of Africa. Wired Baobab Christmas trees glistened in the warm sun and the colourful ethnic fabric strips flapped in the breeze. The favourite shops beckoned but my first port of call was Woolies. The hours flew by and soon I was armed with all the things that I had on my shopping list. Success! It was now time to head back to the hotel. I decided to connect up with the convenient hotel shuttle again. 

A wire replica of this magnificent tree stood proud in the square.

A wire replica of this magnificent tree stood proud in the square.

Taxi! Taxi! The men shouted up at me as I waited patiently for my shuttle service back to the hotel. I assured them that I did not require their services although after an hour and a half of waiting, I was not so sure.

“Are you in any kind of trouble?”  A kind young man had noticed that I had been standing in the same place for rather a long time.
I must have had that ‘gatvol’ expression on my face or maybe it was desperation as my feet where killing me! I explained that I was waiting for my lift. He apologised that he could not assist me as he was on his motor bike and he did not have his extra helmet with him. I could imagine myself perched on the back laden with all my parcels.
But the kind young man was not about to leave me stranded.
“Why don’t you use a taxi?” He beckoned towards the eager faces
‘I am nervous to use my credit card here in a taxi.” I had run out of cash with all my purchases.
The young man scratched his head. He was determined to solve my problem for me.
“Your next option would be to use a Tuk Tuk.”
Why not? I have never been in one of those and I could do with ‘a bit of wind in my face’ after all the crowds in the shops!

My Tuk Tuk chariot......

My Tuk Tuk chariot……

My negotiation with the Tuk Tuk driver was futile. All I had was a R20 note and he insisted on R25. So for a measly R5 I was back where I started! I dragged my packets back with heavy feet. What do I do next?
Just then Sir Galahad came round the corner on his motor bike. Did I have an angel looking after me today or what? I was embarrassed but out came his wallet. We did a quick exchange of currency, my Canadian dollars for his Rand. There was no end to his kindness and I managed to thank him by his name this time.

I raced round the corner and the said Tuk Tuk driver looked across at me warily. I think he thought that I was about to begin round two of my freebie negotiation. The fee changed hands and my plight was about to end…..well so I thought. I dived into the back of the little bubble of a Tuk Tuk. It was quite rickety and was open at the sides. I positioned my legs like a giraffe at a drinking hole hoping that it might stabilize me. I began to have serious doubts about this ride. My driver jumped in and drove with purpose. We flew around corners and darted in and out of traffic. I giggled nervously and pushed my feet harder into the floor boards.
“Oh my hat! What have I let myself in for?”

My gallant driver ......

My gallant driver ……

Suddenly my imagination ran riot. I knew that if he took the right hand lane at the next intersection, he would be taking me into the dodgy part of town. My mind recollected all that was in my handbag….passports, credit cards, and an air ticket. I was a sitting duck! I called upon my angels to watch over me and scolded myself at the same time for being such a fool. I should have known better.

The driver took the safe route and calmness descended on me.
I felt carefree and noticed the purple jacarandas along the way. He screamed up to the entrance of the hotel and I clambered out….I straightened my skirt and flicked my scarf back over my shoulder.

Not my most glamorous exit but certainly the most relieved!


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