Tag Archives: Johannesburg

Out of Africa

Evan picks me up at the Johannesburg airport. I’ve got seven hours until my flight leaves for London and he’s decided to drive me to Pretoria, the place where he and Karin went to teacher’s college. Pretoria is one of the nation’s three capitals – Cape Town and Bloemfontein round out the trio. “I would have taken you to Soweto,” he says, “but with traffic I wasn’t sure we’d have time. It’s across town.” Sure enough, we leave the airport parking lot and are immediately immersed in a Joburg traffic jam. Pretoria it is, then.

The drive gives us time to talk, which is less awkward than you might think given that Evan and I have only known each other for an afternoon. Aside from really enjoying his company, I find him to be very interesting for two reasons: first, he comes from a conservative Afrikaans family but is not so himself; second, he is one of three South Africans I met (Mike and David being the other two) who have recently chosen to return after living elsewhere for a significant period of time.

I remember being quiet the day I met Evan, so totally overwhelmed by everything that I just watched and listened, trying to take it all in. There’s no trace of that now, and the little hatchback brims with spirited exclamations and observations. Our sentences are like puppies, snapping and squirming over one another in an excited pile. Evan is animated, almost tweaking in eagerness to speak about class and race, apartheid and politics. He tells me about his past few weeks which sound a lot like mine: endless political discussions and negotiations punctuated by moments of suffocating frustration and consuming intensity. We marvel at how the issue of skin colour is, itself, a skin over every interaction.

I ask him about his return to South Africa. I am so curious about this trend of repatriation. Evan is thoughtful, and tells me that after 8 years in London he felt he wanted to be in a more challenging place. Was his life good there? It was: he had a fulfilling job and a flat by himself on the banks of the Thames. “But I was dying of contentment,” he explains, and I swoon over his most excellent phrasing. Interestingly, his response is different from the two others I asked about it. In Mike’s case, it was this persuasive and persistent argument from his parents: you left for political reasons which have now changed; come back and participate (and vote) in your country. David’s reasons were more personal – his entire family is here. In all cases, the decision to return was the result of much consideration. There are no accidental arrivals.

We pull into the parking lot of the Blue Crane, a restaurant located in a bird sanctuary. “The food here is very good.” Evan leads me to the door. “But I must warn you – the place is staunchly Afrikaans.” It seems like everywhere else to me: black workers serve white patrons. We take a seat on the patio overlooking a small lake and I watch the last of my African sunsets. I will miss these vast, explosive bedtime stories.

It falls dark and we hit the road. My last image of Africa is of the soft hills smouldering in the darkness. Summer burning has begun.

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The Cradle of Humankind

Saturday is reserved for a trip to The Cradle of Humankind, because after a few consecutive nights out partying in various pubs, lounges and clubs – all, inexplicably, located in the these totally ordinary stucco malls (pronounced “mowls”), “we should get some culture” (according to Karin). We are accompanied by Karin’s friend Evan (pronounced Eih-vahn), a South African teacher who has been away living in London UK for eight years. He has recently returned with an eye to finding a job in the Eastern Cape.

He pulls up into the yard and greets Karin warmly. We introduce ourselves and it is like I have known him all my life. Over the past several days Karin has introduced me to many warm, open people and I have already been struck by that instant-family South African thing I kept hearing about prior to my trip. With Evan, it’s like that times a thousand. He is an old friend within 20 minutes of meeting him.

We three climb into the car and pull out of the yard. Though we had done a lot of driving (in Joburg you must drive everywhere – nothing is close and there is no public transportation; it is Los Angeles without the smog… or Americans) this is my first road trip. It feels great. The sun is shining and within a half hour we are in some beautiful African country. As Karin and Evan catch up, mostly in Afrikaans, I roll down the window and dangle my arm out, letting my fingers float on the warm wind.

A road less travelled.

A road less travelled.

The Cradle of Humankind is a nature reserve and a World Heritage site. It is also a museum of sorts. It takes the evidence from the fossil record along with other bits of science-y stuff and presents a sometimes-profound, sometimes-baffling exhibit on the beginnings of humankind. As it turns out, we all come from Africa, which is good to know should I have any problems at customs.

We walk in and pay for our tickets in an open foyer. As we are waiting for the debit machines, we hear this howling and screaming from below, as if they are hosting a Hallowe’en haunted house in the basement.  In preparation for whatever lies below I visit the Toilet of Humankind, and we head down the steps. The howling gets louder and as we approach I can make out subtler noises: wind, rumbling, splashing, and perhaps, frail screams. We turn the corner and there stands a smiling guy beckoning us into a round plastic boat. I am not making this up. The exhibit begins, apparently, with a terrifying boat ride.

We get in and the raft lurches forward. It is round, like a Cheerio, and it lazily spins as we move forward through what can only be described as the Dawn of Time. We float through a narrow and frosty aperture; we are lightly misted; we pass a waterfall and a glowing volcano that gives way to stalagmites and stalactites; and finally we round a corner and witness grinding tectonic plates. Then, the bottom of the boat catches on a subaquatic hook and we are pulled up a ramp where we disembark.

Boat Ride to the Dawn of Time

Boat Ride to the Dawn of Time

We visit the museum which makes a convincing case that we are all family, and also that we’ve completely fuckered the Earth. There are some very depressing statistics about pollution, literacy, AIDS and HIV, consumption, wealth distribution, and war. There is also a 2 or 3 minute looping display on human creativity that is like the rapid-fire aversion therapy movie the goverment shows Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, only much more positive, obviously.

Then we are hungry, so we make our way outside. I send the other two off to find food and order me a Windhoek beer, and I stay behind to take a few photos.

The Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind

I spend a few moments cursing the fact that I don’t have a wide angle lens because this is wide angle Africa!

I meet Karin and Evan at the appropriately vulvar Cafe of Humankind.

Am I right?

Am I right?

P.S. had a perfect crêpe here, stuffed with spinach and camembert. Should have taken a picture but my hands were too busy shovelling bites into my maw.

On the way back I am feeling rather reflective. Here I am, literally all the way across the world with two people I have just met – one of them within the last 2 and a half hours – and I am happy and peaceful and safe. It is a powerful thing, to take a risk and have everything be OK. I know that part of this trip is about testing the theory that I do not have to maintain absolute control in my life at all times… and then I laugh at myself for being so knob-turned-to-11 all the time. I suppose there are mellower ways teach yourself that lesson than to come all the way around the world to a place known to be dangerous and to stay with strangers. At the same time, I don’t regret anything about the experience. It’s been absolutely marvellous.

Karin and I commemorate Francis, who brought us together. I nearly fell into the ditch, hence the leaning.

Karin and I commemorate Francis, who brought us together. You can't tell because of the grass but there is a rather steep ditch (DANGER!) under the sign into which I nearly fell, hence the leaning.

Evan begins to ask about the rest of my trip, and when I tell him I am going to East London, he asks if I have ever heard of the Garden Route. I have not, and then there’s that South African thing again: on the drive home we make a plan to have him meet me in East London. We will rent a car and drive three days to Cape Town together. We will see the beautiful Garden Route, enjoy a springtime road trip, and have an adventure. It rivals the crêpes for the best idea of the day.

Karin’s phone rings and when she sees the number she passes it to me: it’s Marlise Scheepers! Remember, Marlise was the woman Callie had put me in touch with but she had not yet returned my call. Marlise apologizes for the delay and then tells me she had been robbed and they took her phone. I am a bit shocked, and I say I am sorry – that she should not worry about me. Then she says, “They put a gun in my ribs” and she sounds very sad. It rattles me. Here we are again, drifting along happily and …DANGER! Welcome to Africa.

We all go out that night for my last night in Johannesburg. We go to see Karin’s friend Tamzin DJ at the opening of a new lounge in Rivonia, and I am again amazed at how easily I have come to feel at home. I am already acquainted with five or six people – I could have come here alone and known people!

Evan spends the night at Karin’s and crawls out of bed to say good-bye before I go. When I hug him I am aware of how much I am looking forward to seeing him again. Karin drives me to the airport (it is an odyssey to find the departure drop-off place), and we say good-bye. I try not to think that it is the last time I will see her.

I check my bag with an unusually surly check-in woman who I try to cheer up but she proves to be immune to my charm. Shrugging, I throw my carry-on over my shoulder and walk to security. The security gate in the Johannesburg airport is a switchback for a queue, at the end of which there is a sign on the floor that says, “Please wait to be called forward.” I am the only one in the queue but like a true Canadian I walk the entire length, refusing to cut the corners. What is with that? I get to the end and stop at the sign. There is a woman in a uniform at the end. I wait.

The X-ray machine is empty but still I am not called forward. Finally the guy at the X-ray motions so I tentatively move, flashing a guilty glance at the sign on the floor. I take a step and the security woman starts to laugh, “Oh! I wondered why you weren’t going anywhere. Pay no mind to that, darling.” I laugh, too, and lightly touch her arm as I pass, “No way – that is funny.” The man at X-ray asks, “Any belts? Any keys? Anything metal?” I say no, and he carries on “Any motorcycle today?” I hesitate and his face breaks into a smile. Since when are airport security guards playful?

After only 4 hours’ sleep I am very tired, and I am delighted to find a cafe with a real espresso machine. I have a ham and cheese croissant (and there any other kinds?) and a latte, after which I feel magnificent. My 1time flight boards on time, and I put on my eyeshades. With the exception of waking up to purchase a water at the exorbitant price of 8 rand 50 (about a dollar), I sleep all the way to East London.

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Friday in Joburg

Friday morning I wake up early with Karin to go to her work so I can use the Internet while she teaches her morning classes. Karin teaches grade nine students at a Jewish school in Joburg; she is out at noon on this last Friday before a three week break. The traffic in Johannesburg is legendary but Karin beats it by leaving the house at around 5:45 am. It is still dark and cold when we get into the car.

Out in the streets there is not so much car traffic but I see many people walking along the side of the road. Almost all of the men are wearing some version of a worker’s uniform, which is a (usually blue) long-sleeved jacket and matching work pants. The uniforms are almost penitential and tell any looker at a glance: I am poor.

The sky has lightened by the time we arrive at her school and the security guard lets us in with a wave and a smile. Johannesburg is full of fences and security guards. Every building has an armed response plaque displayed outside and most residences have security guards in little booths to record visitors. In many parking lots, men in worker uniforms stand and watch the cars. They are employed by the businesses (grocery stores or the like) but also make money from tips from shoppers who are satisfied when they emerge from the grocer to find their car and parcels where they left them.

We pull in and park. It’s about 6:45am. Karin tells me that though classes don’t start until around 8:30, she arrives at this time every day and goes to the apartment of a friend and colleague who lives at the school. They spend the time drinking coffee and doing their make-up. As we step out of the car, she’s got her car keys in one hand and a straightening iron in the other.

We make our way into the building and I note that high school smells the same everywhere in the world. We go down some stairs and past closed doors, the last of which Karin knocks on. “Sometimes, Mirelle is in a good mood,” she whispers, “and sometimes not.” The door opens and Mirelle is standing there looking every bit the beleaguered teacher. She snarls a begrudging greeting but her eyes are smiling. Karin turns to me as if to say “See?’ as Mirelle crawls back into her bed, leaving the door open so we may enter. Mirelle’s apartment is a single room with a kitchenette, a small bathroom and a balcony. Both women light cigarettes and I find a stool to perch on while they speak in Afrikaans. After some conversation it is decided that I will stay at Mirelle’s to use her Internet while they teach, as it will be more private and comfortable for me than the computer room.

“Mirelle is not feeling well today,” Karin tells me in English. Mirelle groans from under three duvets. She really doesn’t look at all well.

The power is out (this happens all the time) so we wait and bitch about wanting coffee. The school is not empty – an administrator is around trying to fix the outlets. Every few moments she’ll bellow something from the basement and Mirelle will scream back a response. Finally the appropriate switch is flicked and the power comes on. Mirelle makes coffee and invites me to sit on her bed. Karin is at the mirror doing her make-up.

You know how sometimes if you intentionally blur your eyes a pattern will emerge in an otherwise random-seeming collection of shapes? That’s what listening to Afrikaans is like for me: like I am blurring my ears. If I can surrender myself to the impatient flow of glottal rolls and excessive use of vowels, I can sometimes get a sense of what is being said.

Headache Powders = Hoofpynpoeiers

Headache Powders = Hoofpynpoeiers

So, when Mirelle says something that sounds like sviineflu I turn my head. “I may have forgotten to tell you but there are three cases of swine flu at this school,” Karin tells me. “The principal just went into the hospital, in fact.” Fabulous. This, I am beginning to see, is South Africa, then: everything is fine and cozy and ticking along as it should be and then… DANGER!

At our braai, we had talked about the crime rate and violence in Johannesburg. Karin reassured me that things had gotten much better. It used to be a regular occurrence that farmers were murdered in their homes, but no more. All this was happening, oh, four years ago. This is inconceivable for a Canadian. We are soft and peaceful and coddled, like Alberta cows quietly feeding at a trough. Being here is rattling my bell, but it is also exciting and I am very aware that because of the hospitality of these women I am getting to experience a few days in the life. I am not a tourist – I am a friend.

I am in full think on this when in a sudden flurry of activity, Mirelle drags herself into the bathroom, emerging 10 minutes later looking like an entirely different person. Karin’s friend Bernise arrives. Bernise is the woman whose bed I slept in on my arrival and she greets me warmly. The three women talk about their classes, the administration, and the upcoming day. Karin wants to leave extra early so Bernise and Mirelle say they’ll cover her classes. “Just make sure you are loud and obvious at the morning assembly,” says Bernise. “They’ll never know you left.”

At exactly 8:30 they all abruptly leave and I am alone in the apartment, a South African soapie (soap opera) on the television. On it, two women share a passionate kiss, after which one woman withdraws and begins to explain that it is wrong – that she wants only to be friends. The alternating storyline appears to have to do with a corporate merger that is going to affect a local village, and there’s a lot of talk about tribal dignity and so forth. I watch until the commercial break (a very strange animated piece in which stick figures sing a song about making sure to take your complete round of tuberculosis medications) and then go on the ‘Net. Facebook is banned at the school so I check emails.

About ten minutes later, Bernise comes into the room and says she feels sick and feverish. She crawls into the bed and burrows under the covers.

Bernise and the soapie: which is more dramatic?

Bernise and the soapie: which is more dramatic?

A wind has kicked up and the room has gotten cold so when Bernise interrupts her sighing and groaning to offer me a blanket, I take it. We two sit watching TV in amiable silence until Karin comes into the room. She wants Bernise to go to the hospital – it is obvious to her that she has swine flu. Under the blanket I can feel myself getting a bit feverish. I may have a sore throat too, and I am shivery. Bernise says she can’t leave school now because she has a class. Karin lists the roster of reasons why she definitely has swine flu: the sudden onset, the headache and fever, the achey muscles. By now I am regretting my weakness in accepting the pestilent blanket. Like a sick child, I am thinking about my parents – and how angry they will be. Karin and Bernise strike a deal (Bernise will visit the doctor, but not until later) and we leave.

Hours later, after running some errands that takes me to the outskirts of Joburg on three sides including a drive past Soweto, the day has gone from brisk to boiling. The car is a braai and I am a pork chop, slowly crisping. The roads are all under construction. Joburg will host the 2010 World Cup so there is major investment in infrastructure. The men working the roads wear an orange version of the worker’s uniform, and I sweat just looking at them on the baking tarmac.

A rather odd name for the porta-john, as well.

A rather odd name for the porta-john, as well.

Finally we get back to the farm. Exhausted, I gorge myself on three full hours’ sleep.

When we get up, we have a bite and get dressed for an evening out. We are going to have dinner at Karin’s friend Tamzin’s house before heading out to listen to some music. We are only a few minutes away from Tamzin’s when Karin exclaims, “Bernise! I need to call and see what the doctor said. If she did have swine flu Mirelle would have called me – or so I hope.” She dials Mirelle and no amount of ear-blurring will help me navigate this conversation: it is all shrieking and cooing. Something unexpected is definitely taking place. When Karin hangs up, she turns to me excitedly and says, “That was Mirelle! She and Bernise began taking whiskey when we left and they are now both quite drunk… perhaps this will help her get rid of the swine flu though.” I ponder just how bad a swine hangover will be.

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The symphony

I am woken in the night by a bird. I don’t know if it is the same kiewiet still pissed off at our trespass from earlier that night, but the bird says, “wer wer WERRRR, wer wer WERRRR, wer wer WERRRR.” Well that’s annoying, I think, and roll over, pressing the pillow to my ear.  Soon, “wer wer WERRRR, wer wer WERRRR, wer wer WERRRR” is accompanied by a shriller, clicky voice: “Tka tka tka.” As I lay there a rhythm emerges and I kind of get into it. For the next ten minutes I let my mind drift away on “wer wer WERRRR (tka tka tka), wer wer WERRRR (tka tka tka), wer wer WERRRR (tka tka tka)…”

And then, like some douchebag at a rave blowing on that whistle like there’s no tomorrow, a third bird joins in. Now it’s all off-kilter: “ wer TWEET wer WERRRR TWEET TWEET (tka TWEET tka tka), TWEET wer wer WERRRR…”  You can totally tell the first two birds are mad, too, because they replace their singing sounds with squawking sounds and the resulting morass sounds exactly like a domestic would, in the bird world.

Now I am awake and I have to pee something fierce, so I get up and make my way, gingerly, to the staircase, a steep and banister-less affair.

The perfect place to take your leave once the tribe has spoken…

The perfect place to take your leave once the tribe has spoken…

…but less ideal for someone trying to make it to the bathroom with a head full of spectacular South African merlot.

…but less ideal for someone trying to make it to the bathroom with a head full of spectacular South African merlot.

As I pick my way down the stairs, hugging the wall, the hounds awaken. The scrabble of nails on stone gives way to panting and huffing in the dark. I can hear Karin’s sleepy voice shushing them in Afrikaans. I make it to the bathroom doorway and manage to shut the dogs out. You know how sometimes it’s hard to pee when you think someone is listening? Now try it when there are two slavering Rottweilers snuffling at the bathroom door. I am in there for ages.

The next morning I wake up to wolves howling. As a climb back into consciousness I realize it’s the Rotties. Diego is leading the group with a big, full “Arooo” and the other two are harmonizing their hearts out. I get up and pad downstairs. A crawly thing (lizard?) skitters across the wall behind the fridge which makes me pull all of my limbs in and up away from the floor in an incredibly girlish way, and I run on tip toes into the bathroom. I have a glorious bath and watch the sun rise in the sky. It is my second day in Africa.

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My first braai

When Karin arrives we decide to go to a grocery store and pick up supplies for that evening’s dinner. As we pass the meat counter, the counterperson calls out, “How are you today, sweetheart!” I am totally confused until Karin explains that no, she doesn’t know her, and yes, this a typical greeting here in Joburg. Well that’s rather nice, I think.

We buy yoghurt, berries, milk, chicken, lamb chops, and several kinds of fizzy water for me. Next door we by a six pack of beer and an African merlot.

We take the long way back to Karin’s smallholding, and I am endlessly entertained by roadside things I don’t understand. A sign advertises, “Climbing on real trees!” with a smaller assertion that this is “childcare”. We pass what I guess is a laser tag outfit, called “Laser Skirmish”. At a red light a man passes us a leaflet through the window. It is an introductory offer for Masai Gel for Men. As you might imagine, Masai Gel will change your luck, enlarge the penis (in both girth and length, so says the flyer), and remove curses or hauntings.

We arrive at Karin’s and are greeted by Diego, Nala, and Libra – the three house Rottweilers. When Karin opens the car door, they jump in and over her, rubbing drool and dusty fur in my nose and eyes. I extract myself from this orgy of affection and stand outside the car. Libra, the puppy, hops out and weaves herself around my feet, pushing herself against me in a way that reminds me of Mendoza. Diego, the lone male, makes his way around to me and shoves his head into my crotch. Nala follows suit, and thus acquainted, I am allowed through the gate.

Daddy Diego, and behind him, the seemingly benign horse, Prince.

Daddy Diego, and behind him, the seemingly benign horse, Prince.

The rest of the pack, Nala (Mother) and Libra (puppy).

The rest of the pack, Libra (puppy) and Nala (Mother).

The house is big and open, with naked beams on the ceiling and a towering brick wall. The countertops are stone, as are the floors. It’s great. There is a second story, which is where I will sleep. I lug my bags up the staircase. There is a small bed and a desk and chair with Karin’s computer. After a surreal question and answer period about wireless versus wifi which leads to the awesome discovery that Karin accesses the Internet by plugging her computer into her phone in a rigging that I have never heard of before and which turns out to be dial up, I abandon all hope of checking my email.

We drink beer and converse about the things we have in common, which at that moment includes a love of travel and a love of Francis. We drink a second beer and find that we have a few more things in common, such as the love of animals and the love of music. We drink a third beer and realize we share a love of beer. We go for a walk.

Karin’s home is on a farm owned by a man who has built houses on the property which he rents out to other people. Also nearby is a mushroom farm which to my BC-bred eyes looks like a grow op. Karin shows me the native aloe plants, which sprout these tall stalks on which clusters of flowers bloom – who knew? She also points out the kiewiet (kee-veet), a small white and tan bird picking its way along the ground near us. “Watch out for their eggs,” she says. “We are in their breeding ground.” The kiewiet suddenly takes flight, and screeching, circles us. The bird isn’t large – maybe the size of a loaf of bread – but it makes a sufficiently irritating racket that we leave.

Back at the house, Karin puts the charcoal bricks on the braai and lights them. At first they flame, looking for all the world like a satisfactory barbeque, but Karin tells me the trick is patience – and no flame. “Braai is not barbeque. You don’t want an open flame.” As we let the charcoal settle into a nice slow glow, we open the merlot, which is freaking fantastic. If I knew anything at all about wines I would tell you something about its nose and bouquet. I’d mention that it had legs and it knew how to use them.

By now the merlot has helped us realize that we have so much in common we might as well be the same person. It’s astonishing. Really, it’s evidence of the rightness of the universe that we have been brought together to celebrate the magic that is us. The capper is the discovery that the second person I am supposed to see in Johannesburg, the woman that my friend Callie put me in touch with, actually grew up down the road from Karin. They are acquainted, and the small worldism totally freaks me out.

As night falls, she puts on the meat, lamb chops first. Decades pass, and finally they are done. Next it is the chicken thighs. While these are cooking, Karin prepares her favourite thing – “Maybe even better than the meat,” she exclaims. They are, essentially, grilled cheese sandwiches filled with tomato, onion, and mustard. Finally, the food is cooked and Karin suggests we go inside “…and turn the lights off so we can eat like animals.” This woman takes the open-a-can-over-the-sink aspect of bachelorism a step further – and I like it! We sit in the dark, putting pinches of coarse salt on the very best lamb chops I have ever tasted. Then we have the chicken, which we pick off the bone with our fingers, and the sandwiches. Oh, the sandwiches. The bread has become crispy on the braai, completely containing the gooey flavour bomb inside.

Finally, at the ripe old time of 10:30 or so, we trundle off to bed with full bellies.

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Welcome to Africa

A crescent moon hangs over the steel airplane wing. Three stars are visible in the morning sky. A smear of red runs under the ailerons, and the clouds below look cauliflower heads in cream sauce. We dip below the cover and I can see my first glimpse of the African continent. It is red. Red earth, red roofs, red rivers. As we begin to circle Johannesburg I imagine that from 15,000 feet it looks like a rusty circuit board.

We land. I disembark, collect my luggage, and head out to the passenger pick-up area. Francis’ friend Karin is there to meet me, which is a relief. After some false starts (improper change for the parking machine, apparent disappearance of area 2J of the garage), we drive into Johannesburg.

I would like to report that I spent the drive marvelling at the flock of happy giraffe that loped alongside our vehicle waving their hooves in welcome, or the sound of exuberant song rising out of every home, or the playful baby elephant spraying water on its dusty brother while a Masai warrior stood to the side under a heavy African sun. These things may have been there for me to observe and cherish, but I was consumed with terror at every turn we took through traffic. Did you know that in Johannesburg they drive on the left side of the street? Do you know how alarming it is to be the passenger in a car driving in said manner?

Karin takes me to her friend’s house – a fellow teacher who has graciously offered to let me shower and nap there while Karin finishes her work day. We arrive, Karin introduces me to the maid, and she goes back to work for the day. I have the most satisfying shower of my life, heightened by a sense of comeuppance (this shower, at least, is for ‘people like us’). I fall into a deep slumber that is interrupted many hours later by the voice of Cameron, the five year old girl whose mother’s bed I am asleep in.

I dress quickly, feeling utterly disoriented and go out into the main room. I down three glasses of water. Next, I settle in for the kind of interrogation only a five year old can conceive of. “Do you like to swim? When was the last time you played soccer? Where do you love?” This last one stumps me. “I’m sorry – what are you asking?” Cameron is impatient: “Love! Where do you love?” It crosses my mind that this kid is ridiculously deep for one so young and then it hits me. “I live in an apartment in Toronto.”

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1time!

OK, now I know what 1time means: that quoted low price will only be available one time – after that the price goes up 100 rand. I am not kidding. When I hit “Book” the price was 100 rand more. Pauly the (paranoid) travel agent suspects some sort of sniffer software that detects when you’ve been on the site for a while and raises the price. Not to worry, thought I, I will use a different browser. I launched IE and typed in the URL… and the price it gave me was higher by another 100 rand. Maybe it’s a tax for being an IE user and if so, I can get behind that.

Oh yeah, also, I thought about it and 1time is a terrible name for an airline. Presumably they want their passengers to return more than one time, right? The name makes you want to fill in the blank, like, “One time I was on this plane and…” and these sentences rarely end well. And then that 3 second bit of audio from that Fugees song totally got stuck in my head: “ONE time…TWO time…” Completely nutter-making after 20 minutes of browser tweaking while I tried to figure out if the airline’s software was smarter than me.

Anyway, I totally got into it with this site. I cleared my cache and temp files, restarted my computer, and visited 1time. Sure enough, it thought it was my one-time visit and there was my first low price. Booked it: I win. More nice less price – booyah.

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