Feb 11, 2010
|Wednesday, Feb. 10
Today's was a great lesson in South African history. We visited the Apartheid museum which contained so much information there's no way I'll retain it all. South Africa has a violent history with a series of bad presidents. Things started to look better with Nelson Mandela but the present leadership seems to be screwing things up again. Zutu has 4 wives and still felt the need to sleep with another woman who is HIV positive. He's spending 65 million rands (something like that) on fixing up government buildings but "generously" giving the Soweto hospital 6 million. Soweto hospital is the largest in the world, has over 4,000 and 19 working toilets.
We drove through Soweto, a township the blacks were placed in when kicked out of Johannesburg and saw the homes of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Big improvements have been made but there are still slums which we visited on foot. Bee took us to the home of a mother of 4 kids. Two rooms in a tin house and she has four kids. It was neat and clean and she had a garden. Bee himself, a resident of this slum, was wearing nice white pants, tee shirt and nice shoes. He commented on how ugly Mike's crocs were. We left a bag of clothes and our left over toiletries with the woman but now i wished we could have left it in Malawi. Yes, these people are poor but they have outhouses that the government pumps out now and then. In Malawi they're much worse off. Less tourists to come and give them handouts and no toilets.
We learned all about the Soweto uprising (76) which happened when the government imposed new rules on education. Math and Science had to be taught in Afrikaans. This was a huge problem to these kids who didn't speak it. Thousands of unarmed students marched in protest and were shot down by the police. The official number is 600 children died but it's more like 1,300. One policeman was injured.
I found learning the different labels they give people interesting. There are blacks, coloureds, asians....it sounds really silly but is still quite serious. The people are nice and quite friendly but I sensed a lot of arrogance when I mentioned where we'd been. To them, only South Africa is Africa, the rest is.....I'm not really sure. Of all the African countries we've visited, I think South Africa is my least favourite.
D.G. dropped us off at the airport around 6. We got our souvenir bags wrapped in plastic and found the KLM counter, never expecting to be able to check our bags so soon. Wow, I have never had such great airline service. They were nice, friendly and offered to put our souvenirs through as fragile even though I said they were well wrapped.
O.R. Tambo airport has a HUGE duty free mall so we walked and walked and walked. Mike had enough and went and sat by the gate waiting for me to spend the last of our rands since it wasn't worth exchanging it. At about 11:30 pm I finally sat down hoping that I'd be so exhausted I'd sleep on the 10.5 hour flight to Amsterdam. That didn't happen, even though we had an empty seat and room to spread out. I watched two movies, some Mash, Frasier... etc since I couldn't read as turning a light on would annoy those people who WERE sleeping. They kept coming around with snacks and drinks so we just spent the night eating and watching tv. I guess that makes up for 5 weeks of no tv???
Wow, not only is our flight on time, it's actually early! Schipol Airport has lots of shops too although very expensive. Since we've got to sit for another 7 hours we walked about for the 2 hours we had to wait. Of course we used the time wisely buying some droppies and gouda cheese. After all, isn't that what one does when one is in the Netherlands?
A couple of episodes of CSI and two more movies and still no more sleeping. This is weird. I haven't watched this many movies in years cuz I always fall asleep -- even in movie theatres! I watched Julie and Julia, The Time Travellers Wife, The Proposal and Atonement. Not bad
Flights home were completely uneventful which was really nice! Thanks to Fred for picking us up and getting us home safely. Although traveling is great fun and we absolutely LOVED our trip to Africa, it is good to be home!