I was up early and was offered breakfast though we were promised packed last night. Pretty ordinary – fried egg, samosas, toast, tea. No butter. Hot water with milk.
We managed to squeeze into the small taxi, had to exit at the Nairobi International airport barrier to walk through security while the car and bags drove through. I don’t know how much good that does. More scans before check in; my carry bag is 12kg but was allowed on. Could have been a problem. More scans even shoes off. And then a long wait.
A 4 hr flight to Jo’burg (SAA food and service was appreciated) where we each bought a SIM card for the phones, found the rental car, and drove to Pretoria. Cousin Arthur is in Hospital there, and not recovering well from pneumonia. The hospital is not impressive, and Arthur is in a bad way.
We stopped on the road to shoot my old University of South Africa, sitting on the edge of one of several ridges in Pretoria, where we saw our first white beggar, a white woman, standing on the lane marker. Going further on the highway, we passed the ugly, black, reject chromite mine dumps, turning off to Mooi Nooi, where we last lived till emigrating in 1981. And what a mess; so sad to see it. Rubbish blowing around, the houses in poor condition, the shopping centre with high security fencing to protect a further mess. Across the main road is a new centre, in better condition, where the orange grove and blue gums were once. Our house is now a 2nd hand ‘shop’; old fridges and bits lie in the garden. I went into the Wimpy bar (like a McDonalds), spoke briefly to the young black serving woman who replied she was not even born when we left! I could not live here.
We took the old road to Rustenburg, to pass the lovely Cape Dutch ‘Rondalia’, still a tourist resort, but now hidden behind trees and fences. I loved passing here at night on the Suzuki as the orange blossom filled the valley. Now ugly shops line the road.
I could not recognise the road as we approached Kroondal; a mish-mash of buildings, fences, rubbish lined it instead of the neatly fenced wheat fields and trees. David and Pauline have a large bush property south of Kroondal, on the rocky slopes of the Magaliesberg, a high quartzite ridge running east-west, the physical and climatic boundary between the northern and southern Transvaal (as I knew it). We arrived at about 7 to an emotional meeting – we have become so old! I could hardly recognise David. Dinner was waiting, in Pauline’s ‘Christmas’ room, a permanent fixture. There we met their daughter Natalie (again) with their children and talented husband. And a single lady who lives in a small house 200m away on the property. The large ensuite bedrooms are all upstairs, protected by a strong gate at the head. More tomorrow.