Travel Journal

Jo-burg again

(Thursday 17 March 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 201 2/22/11
The flight back was smooth. There was a problem with the pickup from Gemini as I misunderstood the instructions as exactly where we should be but we got aboard their van an hour after arrival and got back quickly to the hostel. It was well worth the return to the power outage hostel as a normal transit would cost ten or so USD. I tried to do laundry which I let back up as there is a free laundry machine there but it was in use so we headed to downtown on a van to try to obtain the train tickets which I couldn’t do remotely.
There was no problem getting to Park Center which is the train/bus center for Jo-burg in a slightly seedy area of town. We bought tickets but couldn’t get a 2 berth that we could share for the 27 hour train ride. We were told to request this at the train and settled for separate berths for male and female to get on the train. We were lucky in that the daily trains had been cut back to three times a week and the following day did have a train we could get on.
After shopping fruitlessly for Julie’s South African jersey downtown, we hopped on a bus back to the hostel. We had become pros on the bus system by now and got a bus to Lombard rather than to Alexandra which is an iffy area. The bus spent twenty minutes leaving the station as a disgruntled driver blocked the exit refusing to give the station their cut of his fares. The weather had suddenly changed and we exited under hail. Hail in South Africa for goodness sakes! Afterwards it turned into a downpour which turned the streets into rivers and I was surprised we made it through some parts of the deluge. Unfortunately, we got on a bus to Lombard East rather than Lombard West. Slight, but costly as we had to jump out rather far from our hostel with no clear directions of where to go. In the rain. In the cold rain. Poor Julie was shivering and we were in a residential area where everything was walled in. We huddled under some trees for awhile and Julie was shivering rather badly. The few people we met gave conflicting directions on where to go. For the first time, I felt completely useless. There was no traffic, no taxis, no one to help us. A horn informed us we were blocking a private driveway and we asked directions from the driver who told us we were several kilometers away from where we wanted to be. The man asked his wife, a very nice African woman, to give us a ride and she agreed and was a recipient of a cascade of thanks from us!
We finally got to do laundry back at the hotel but I doubted it would dry before we had to leave the next day. We hung it out and hoped there would be no more rain!


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