This week I’m off to Mexico for the first time. Since I’m not sure if I will have access to the internet, I’m writing a series of blog posts describing my first impressions of my favorite cities.
There are some places that you should not visit during certain periods of your life. After my mom passed, I wanted to be any place, but home (Germantown was home then). I went to visit my friend Jenn in California. I cried all over San Francisco and Napa Valley. Then a friend invited me on a work trip that she had to take to London and Johannesburg (Jo’burg). She said that we could add Cape Town on at the end. My uncle and I fought about it, and we never fight about anything. This trip was doomed from the beginning. Anyway, I went. I had an emotional breakdown in London, but didn’t take it as the warning sign that it was. So I boarded a plane and flew 17 hours to Jo’burg.Now, I am sharing all of this information about my emotional state because I truly believe that it colored my opinion of Jo’burg.
Jo’burg is one of the most depressing places that I have ever been. While the country ended apartheid in 1994, it still seemed closed off. We stayed in a hotel in one of the suburbs because we told that it was not safe to stay in the city. As I was driven around by a tour guide, who asked me several times why I wasn’t married, I saw a stark division between the haves and the have-nots. The wealthy residents had armed guards at the front gate of their homes. All of the houses had walls around the property with barbed wire. The poorer residents looked like they were going without so many of the basic things. It was too much for my mental state. After 48 hours, I had a complete emotional breakdown and realized that I need to deal with the grief that I was feeling at home and stop running away from it.
I would like to go back to South Africa some day. I would like to see Cape Town and the country. Some day…