Ok this throwback we’re going to go way back to 2016 and the trip I took with one of my childhood friends to visit our childhood best friend as he worked in Mozambique. In December of 2016 N and I spent two weeks visiting M in Mozambique and South Africa. We spent one week in Maputo and on the shores of Tofu, a couple of days on an informal safari in the North of South Africa, and finished our trip celebrating new years on the streets of Jo-burg.
We arrived on a Monday and found a cheap, clean room at we stayed at Once in Joburg. With only two days to spend in one of South Africa’s biggest cities, we weren’t able to do nearly as much as we wanted. However for our limited amount of time we all agreed the Nelson Mandela Museum was a must, and finding somewhere to spend New Years would be fun.
The Neslon Mandela Museum is a necessary stop if you are in Joburg. The museum is very well done and packs a powerful punch. We stayed for over 6 hours reading, watching, and learning about South Africa’s bloody history, and it’s fight to end apartheid. Traveling provides such an authentic way to learn about the world around us.
That same night was our last night in South Africa, and also happened to be New Years Eve. After much searching we were able to find a rooftop party held at a bar no more than a 7 minute walk down the road. So the boys put on their Sundays best and I threw on a dress and off we went.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far. Upon our arrival at the door the men were told they couldn’t enter unless they can closed-toe shoes, but don’t worry the bouncer knew of someone that could get them some shoes. With what felt like very few options if we wanted to do something that night, we struck out on what turned into quite the adventure. Right before we left bouncer called over 2 street boys over to help as both guides and protection. Off to see the wizard.
The trip to, and the buying of the shoes, was simple and forgettable. The boys ended up having to spend all their money (shocker) and we started to make our way back. Thanks to the highest of quality new shoes and their even higher price tags the boys needed to stop at an ATM on the way. This is how I found myself standing outside a gas station despite the insistent prodding of my guides when a man appeared wearing all white, covered in blood and clutching his bleeding arm.
I want to be clear, I was not the smartest bulb in the bunch for this exchange. While it’s funny now, and I wasn’t that worried in the moment there are many things that could have gone horribly wrong. If you are ever in Jo-Burg, at night, with local guides to keep you safe, listen to them. Don’t be the dumb girl from the states who says it’s fine and stay outside while her friends are inside trying to take cash out.
So here I am, outside a Total Braamfontein watching a white outfit slowly turn to pink and then red like a child playing with watercolors, and what do I do? I say, “You should really put a tourniquet on that” not one, but TWICE. This of course grabs the flailing mans attention. He looks at me, with he arm pouring blood from what looks like a stab wound and says ‘ oh I’m a ahmmeerrican with and ahhmmmerrican accent” before dismissing me and starting to rant about his stolen phone. After a minute or two he refocuses on me and very seriously asks me “wait, what do you think about my sweatshirt” and points to the pink hello-kitty cartoon on his once white, now pink hoodie. “umm… It’s nice” ” See I TOLD you” he shouted to no one in particular.
At this point I may have realized I probably wasn’t in the smartest of places and look towards the store to see where my friends, now over 10 minutes gone, had went. And sure enough, I can see them. M is standing, framed in the night by the doors and store lighting, intensely focused on trying to get his candy bar open. It looked for all the world as if he was preforming brain surgery, not attempting to open a snickers.
While I watch M, and his surgical process, I hear police sirens and they’re getting closer. I snap a quick “let’s go” to the boys and finally we’re off. Just as we’re leaving the store, M who has no clue what happened while he was inside, looks and me and says ” Please don’t use your teacher voice on me”.