It’s hard to believe that I’m now in the last portion of my trip; though I have seen and done a lot, it still feels like I have only just begun to scratch the surface. As I look back to the days before I left, I remember being concerned that I would get stuck, that my contacts could fall through, that it was going to be a long and lonely ten weeks. For the most part, it’s certainly been the opposite (to my relief!).
So, Thursday evening I landed (for the second time) in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport…but this time, I got to leave the airport.
I was picked up by Raymond, a friend of a good friend back in Chicago; Raymond is renting a house in Melville (a trendy area of the city) and works for the Jesuit Institute. He is kindly letting me stay with him while I’m here; it’s nice to stay somewhere that is not a guesthouse! Melville is also a great place to be, particularly for someone traveling mostly by foot. There are lots of good restaurants, coffee shops, and bars within walking distance. I’ve spent most of my time so far exploring the area.
On Saturday, I went to the Apartheid Museum, which charts the history of apartheid South Africa from its beginning through the struggle and liberation.
Having been reading the stories of the TRC, it was useful and profound to see the entire history mapped out. Through new reports, eyewitness accounts, photographs, and videos, the museum clearly charted how apartheid developed, refined, and maintained itself. The documentation of the struggles showed both the horrible effects of apartheid and how the struggle for liberation ultimately found success. I appreciated the clear layout of the museum, which made it easy to follow the history without missing a section (which creates gaps). It took a few hours to walk through the large museum, but it was definitely worth it.
So, what’s my plan for Jo’burg?
I have a list of contacts with whom I am hoping to meet while here, but I’m currently waiting for responses from them. In the meantime, I’ve been exploring Melville and meeting many of Raymond’s friends and colleagues, many of whom are Jesuits so have connections and knowledge about what I’m here for. I’m also enjoying the chance to debrief and process the past eight weeks, particularly my time in Maritzburg. Once I get home, I’ll have only ten short days before classes start. Now is actually the ideal time to process the trip and prepare for the transition back to school.
On a fun note, Raymond has been planning several dinners and asked me if I wanted to cook for a couple folks coming to dinner tonight. I jumped at the opportunity: I haven’t cooked in so long…and it’s something active to do during the day (as opposed to reading and writing). I’ve made some quiches and hopefully created a delicious Milk Tart, which is a South African specialty dessert. I found a recipe in one of the cookbooks I bought for myself.
A coffee shop update (for those who were curious): it’s looking like “Wish” may be the winner (at least right now). They have free wireless (no internet where I am staying, so this is somewhat necessary) plus good coffee and snacks. An added bonus is that it doubles as a bar/restaurant…so some afternoons I can relax with a glass of wine if I’m no longer in a coffee mood.
So there you have it; it’s crazy to think that I was leaving Chicago just eight weeks ago. I’m looking forward to posting some reflections on my time here and more on The Bible in Context over the next couple of weeks. Keep in touch; can’t wait to see y’all very soon!