Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Nelson Mandela Shopping Centre...

I bought a basket of fruit today, 10 peaches, 10 nectarines, 8 oranges, a pineapple and a watermelon… £3 total. Petrol here has now soared to nearly 80pence a litre. The more I see it the more it’s hard to believe.

We went to the Nelson Mandela Shopping Centre, I’d say it's roughly 5 times the size of the metro centre but I can’t be sure. I know we walked endlessly for hours never really knowing where we were. We parked in 'Blue L' but there were six other colours and A to Z in each!

 It wasn’t full of crappy shops though, it was at least as good if not better than the shopping malls in Las Vegas, but everything was reasonably priced and great quality. People were there to help you pack your bags, carry your shopping to the car if needed and best of all, if you needed to ask an assistant something, there seemed to be one wherever you looked. You know when you walk around in Marks and Spencer’s back in England, and you just can’t find anyone, and even when you spot them, they’ve seen you first and start sprinting away; and that's our best shop!

People have such lovely imaginative names out here. Our gardener is called ‘Freedom’; another guy I met called ‘Peacemaker’. A girl in the shop this morning her name badge read ‘Sincerity’, and another ‘Salvation’. Colourful people with colourful names and so far, such lovely people.

As you drive around the city, the underlying poverty is obvious. At every set of lights there are men selling anything from newspapers to sunglasses, women with babies begging and some severely handicapped people doing the same. They sell fruit, veg, eggs, offer to clean your windscreen and nothing seems to surprise me now. As you park in the supermarket or at the side of the road, a man will offer to look after your car, whether you want him to or not. I was parked in an almost empty car park this morning, and as I got into my car, I could see the guy behind me waiting to direct me out. As I reversed I was more concerned about hitting him than the nearest car about 20 metres away. I gave him 5 rand, about 30 pence, I’m told that’s double over what I should have given!

Had to try a Big Mac today, I stopped eating them in the UK some time back after reading how they prepare the meat. (meat? I joke!) Well the news is they are just the same over here, and with the mind-blowing selection of other places to go, give them a miss in South Africa. Went to Makro on the way home, we don’t have aircraft hangers that big! Felt a bit daft on buying the sat nav when I asked the assistant if it had South Africa maps on it! She gave me a puzzled look and said, “Of course sir!” Rowan tried to buy a Dongle but they point blank refused to serve him unless he could prove his address (It’s the law). He had his passport but that’s just not good enough. We discussed whether to offer the girl a bribe, and she may have accepted, but then we thought she might call the police and we’d have to pay them a bigger bribe!

Alex bought us the best ice cream ever! I mean it! Creamy, smooth, yummy stuff which we ate as we wandered across the square in front of the giant statue of Nelson himself; Mandela, of course! Clear blue sky, around 26 C and a light warm breeze; we were in heaven.

Had a catch up with Beverley today, all seems to be going well so far and I look forward to an update tonight. Can’t really tell more, it’s a bit hush hush!

With 158 hits on the blog yesterday I'm reaching a lot of you from Johannesburg, and thanks for looking in, it's a great way to keep family and friends up to date, and especially others that I know can't help checking in every so often :-) Welcome!

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