Posted by: haleymulf | February 16, 2009

Jo’burg

me

I can now cross another city off of my list of places to travel in South Africa. Last weekend about 13 of us went to Johannesburg and stayed for two days and one night in a backpackers. We needed a little holiday after being in school and stuck in Pretoria for three weeks. This trip our mode of transportation was a mini bus. A mini bus is basically a taxi, but it seats about 12 people in the cities and the ones that go between cities seat about 20. Not very safe if you’re travelling alone and you don’t know the city, but with a large group or a local it is perfectly fine. Anyways… we took a mini bus to the bus station and from the bus station took another mini bus to Jo’burg. Our hostel this time was much better than it was in Durban. They even had vans to drive us around to places we wanted to visit in the city. Our first stop was the Apartheid Museum.

This is the biggest tourist attraction in Jo’burg because it is the only museum for the apartheid, which is the period that basically molded the country to what it is today. It took almost three hours to go through the entire building and watch the countless number of videos, read the many descriptions of events, and look at all of the pictures. It was very difficult but also moving to see what the people of South Africa had been through and how hard they fought to get their country back. It’s amazing what can happen when people want something bad enough. So many South Africans died or were put in prison, including of course Nelson Mandela. Because of all of these sacrifices the apartheid was ended in 1991, and democratic elections commenced in 1994.  After seeing the museum we went back to our backpackers and relaxed by the pool for awhile. copy1From the front of the house you can see an amazing view of Jo’burg. It is the biggest city in South Africa and has a population of over nine million people. This is quite a lot of people considering the population of the entire country is 44 million. Although I’d have to question that until I learn how they conduct the census. The rest of the night we spent out on the town going to dinner at a nice Thai restaraunt (the first one I have seen here) and going to the local clubs. The next day we took a tour of the city and went to the tallest building in all of Africa. You’re probably thinking wow, the tallest building in 52 countries and on the entire continent? It must be very tall! Actually, it was only 50 floors. But it still had a pretty nice view.

The journey home started with our hostel van dropping us off at the wrong bus station. From here we had a random man on the street lead us four blocks to the taxi rank where we would be catching a mini bus back to the station in Pretoria. That is some Southern African hospitality. All weekend we had been told not to be in the city center, especially around the mini bus station. I could see what they were talking about as we were walking down the street with ten college students from Europe and one American. You could definitely say that we were making a spectacle out of ourselves just by being there. To make matters worse, the day before we left, two people from our group were mugged in the same area by four men with knives. I plan on never being in that situation again. We were laughing in the face of danger… HAHAHAHA. Okay or not, but it did give us a rush of adrenaline. I couldn’t hear anything except my loud breathing and my heart pounding in my chest.

On a side note, I registered for a new course this week after attending it on Monday. African Human Rights Law is now my new favorite class… EVER. It is interesting and fun, not quite a lecture but more of a discussion. I’m lucky that I happened to stumble upon it in the yearbook (the book with the list of courses… basically enroll.ou.edu).There are 12 people in the class; three of us exchange students and the rest from countries all over Africa. I think that’s partially why it is so interesting. I could never have the same classroom experience at home. We have a mixture of views from Europe, the US, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the semester. Also this week I had a bit of homesickness really for the first time. I miss Oklahoma. I miss walking around my OU campus, and I miss not being the only person wearing sweatpants to class. I miss my family, my friends, and puppy Jack. It’s hard to outweigh this experience though, and I know that the homesickness will pass.

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