I would like to paint a picture for you.  It is the 6th May 2020, Covid-19 was discovered in China in late December and due to prompt action by the authorities it was contained and life around the world went on.

It is now 8:30 in the morning and you are awoken by unfamiliar bird calls and for a moment you forget where you are, of course, you are on your dream holiday. Yesterday, along with some friends you boarded Qantas flight QF63 from Sydney and 14 hours later you were meet by your Southern Africa Escorted Tours guide at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and driven through Johannesburg to your accommodation in Parkhurst, a suburb of Johannesburg.

The birds you are hearing are the Hadeda Ibis who are the loudest bird in Africa and are common in Johannesburg.  They are grey in colour and are a close relative of the Sacred Ibis – to you and I that is a “bin chicken” – found throughout urban Australia.

Your accommodation is at the French Cottage in Parkhurst, a four-bedroom house with each bedroom having ensuite facilities.  There is a good size lounge and dining area and a covered veranda overlooking the small back yard and it was here that you sampled some South African wine and cheese last night.

The smell of coffee gets you moving and as you go into the kitchen you see you are not the only one up ready to go.  Coffee, croissants and muffins are laid out for breakfast as well as cereal and fruit juice.  Today is a slow day to enable you to adjust to a new time zone and to recover a little from the flight.  As this is the start of winter in South Africa it is also the start of the dry season in the north of the country so it is unlikely to rain.  The temperature for today is expected to reach 22 degrees with clear skies, a light jacket is probably a good idea.

The plan for today is to visit Liliesleaf in Rivonia, a 20-minute drive from your accommodation and to spend part of the afternoon visiting this instructive museum.  Liliesleaf was headquarters to the ANC during the Apartheid days in South Africa and today it honours the memory of all those who fought and struggled during those troubled times.  It is a beautiful setting and you will be able to wander around at your own pace.

There are numerous restaurants in Johannesburg offering a wide range of cuisine and for tonight a visit to one of the many restaurants within walking distance of your accommodation would be a great place to start.   To finish, maybe a glass of South African wine while sitting in garden under the southern skies.

Tomorrow will be another day of getting to know and understand South Africa.

Ulale Kakuhle  – Good night in Xhosa

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