Day 2 in Jo’burg
Today we planned on visiting the Apartheid Museum. Johan woke us up for breakfast at 6:30 am. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed after being awake for so long the day before. During dinner, the night before, we decided we would visit the Apartheid Museum, and see what else we had time to do in the afternoon.
We enjoyed a filling breakfast Jan cooked for us, and got ready for the day ahead. We made the short drive to the museum. I have to be honest and admit that before going to the Apartheid Museum I was not entirely sure what apartheid meant. Apartheid is Afrikaans, which is one of the many languages spoken in South Africa. Our hosts grew up speaking Afrikaans, and when they speak to each other they rarely use English.
Growing up in the US, especially the South, I am not entirely unfamiliar with segregation and peoples’ civil liberties not being equal because the white government declares it so. Since both segregation and slavery were part of US history before I was ever born, I learned about them. However, I never truly witnessed them.
Apartheid was not abolished until 1991. To learn about this in more depth was a bit shocking, but in 1991 I was 8 years old, so it wasn’t something on my radar then. It hasn’t really ever been on my radar. I knew about Nelson Mandela. I knew he was a strong political figure in South Africa. Hollywood has made movies about his life, etc… You would have to live in a bubble not to have heard of him before. But I did not know the full details of Apartheid and just how long it existed.
The museum itself is one of the most well thought out museums I have ever visited. There is a starting point and and ending point. Each section either progresses you through the history of apartheid in South Africa or a certain aspect associated with it. There were a lot of visual aides, photographs, artwork, and videos that helped explain the history of apartheid. Each area had a large plaque to read. You can read the larger bold print and get a general description of each area, or you can read the smaller print and get a more in depth explanation.
The flow of the museum, and the explanation plaques used in the museum are perfect to cater to each guest and give them their own unique experience each time they visit. Another unique thing the museum does when you buy an entrance ticket is to assign you as colored or white randomly. Based on your assigned color you must enter the museum through a separate entrance. After a brief separation however, you are reunited to experience the rest of the museum together.
I highly recommend adding this museum to your list of places to visit if you ever visit Johannesburg. We spent around 3 hours in the museum. We could have easily spent much longer. Because we got hungry and we did not bring lunch with us we made sure to make it through the museum by lunch time. I don’t think we rushed through any of the museum, but we probably only spent half as much time there as we could have.
Before we ate we needed to run an errand to the Virgin Mobil store since Andrew’s SIM card was not working properly in his phone. This task proved more daunting than it should have been. There are gyms in South Africa owned by the mega corporation Virgin (yes, the airline). All the gyms are called Virgin Active, and Google Maps wanted to take us to all of them thinking that they were Virgin Mobil stores. Three detours to the wrong places later, and a very HANGRY Brie, and we made it to a mall with a Virgin Mobil inside.
Andrew decided to feed his bitch of a wife at this point. He may have lost an eye if I didn’t get food. I was exhausted still from our travel day the day before. Feeling exhausted and hungry at the same time made me miserable. I seriously only wanted to sleep (after I ate). I kept telling Andrew I just wanted to go to a park and fall asleep, or find a place to park the car and take a nap. We ate a nice meal at the mall, and got Andrew’s phone sorted out.
I was still very grumpy because I was so tired, but I was no longer hungry. There was nothing in particular I wanted to do around Johannesburg. I knew I would not enjoy whatever we were doing since I had a headache and my eyes kept wanting to shut. I told Andrew to “leave me alone and let me shut my eyes!”
When he tapped me awake, we had driven to a large park. Andrew said he knew I liked flowers so he took me to a botanical garden. Neither of us were able to see a garden! The whole park as far as our eyes could see was covered in grass and people walking their dogs. There were no flowers to be found.
We walked and walked until I gave up and we laid down in the grass to have a quick nap. It started getting cooler after an hour, so we pulled ourselves off the ground. We walked around, and I felt much better than I had in a few days. We found the botanical gardens eventually, though they weren’t very botanical. There was a nice small lake with some teams of men rowing. We started to head back to our home base of Johan’s and Jan’s to meet them for dinner.
Our evening was filled with a lot of laughs, a delicious pasta dinner with eel ink noodles, and a few glasses of wine from South Africa. Johan entertained us with funny stories of previous Couchsurfering guests, and told us about all the other things we could do while we were in Johannesburg!
Read my last post about our arrival in to Johannesburg.