Ag in Africa

5 November, 2006

At last, some pix….

Filed under: johannesburg — Ag @ 8:48 pm

A street in Melville, Joburg
Beautiful Jacaranda trees on a street in Melville.

Pretty house in Melville, Joburg
It may be a pastiche but at least it has some aesthetic appeal…

'Armed response' prowlers
These guys prowl around the streets looking for trouble.

Example of a particularly scared household
This is an example of a particularly scared household.

Bourgainvillea; Joburg is drenched in this beautiful climber.

Joburg skyline
Joburg skyline from Roosevelt Park, where I’m staying.

I realise that I should have uploaded some pix ages ago, but I have lots of passable excuses for not doing so:

  • I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to use my very complicated camera
  • I am a shit photographer, although I am blaming my tools (see point 1 above)
  • I was so busy figuring out how to skype / wordpress / gmail / wireless / ipod / flickr / hsem / GRuT and KeRaP that I only mastered getting pix onto my posts this week.
  • Oh, and (thank god) someone took pity on me and we went out and got pissed, so I had a night off my usual digital-familiarisation-endeavours.

So, this is my first attempt at showing what Joburg looks like. I’m starting with the so-called suburbs, which is where I live, cos that’s the only place that I feel safe enough to wield a camera at the moment. I am steeling myself to take some pix in ‘town’, but it’s either going to take some guts (aka stupidity, in this case) or a few drinks, as I run the risk of being mugged before I’ve got the camera out of its bag.

So, anyway the suburbs. I know it sounds really dull, but they are actually very much like dull Blighty suburbs. Think Harpenden, Stoke Bishop, Finchley, Frenchay, Sticklepath, Fremington, Ealing, Barnet… Houses in gardens surrounded by walls, oozing ‘safe’.The difference here is that the suburbs are right in the city. Quite often major businesses are situated in suburbs, so you could get a major bank’s headquarters surrounded by fancy suburban houses. The suburbs also aren’t a long way from the central areas; they sit right beside each other. It would be the equivalent of Ealing sitting right beside the City of London or Westbury on Trym sitting beside Broadmead. (Hah! I vote we relocate Westbury on Trym next to Broadmead.)

The other wierd stuff is that there are no cars parked on the streets in the suburbs here, cos they get nicked. A lot of the paranoia here is paranoia (I think) but it’s true that if you leave your car on the street it will get nicked, so no cars. Which is a sort of utopia, but for all the wrong reasons. There are also no white people walking on the streets. The car is king, even if it is under constant siege.

So, good stuff. Um. Um. Actually so far there are two incredibly good things:

  1. The weather! This is the sort of weather people fantasize about. It’s hot, but not at all humid, so when you go in the shade, it feels cool. The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue. Really solid and pure. Then there are fantastic thunderstorms that last a few hours, then clear. We’ve had so many of these that I’ve already lost count in the 6 weeks I’ve been here.
  2. It’s the greenest city I’ve ever been to. Gorgeous, huge, greenest-green, luscious colourful plants everywhere. The streets are tree lined and creeper lined. And, because of all this greenery, there are loads of very exotic looking-and-sounding birds all over the place. The lack of parked cars also means that you can see the greenery. Little and biggish parks all over the place. Nature reserves too. Which is ironic as one isn’t supposed to walk in them without company. Wherever you get a vantage point of the city (from many places as it’s hilly), you can see how incredibly green the city is.

At the moment, I’m kind of indifferent to the city. I like the fact it isn’t touristy, with no cutesy prettiness which I also kind of like about Bristol. But I’m waiting for a decisive event to trigger a bit of love or a bit of hate. Indifference is so flacid.



  1. *sigh* I love Jacaranda trees. Now I feel homesick. 😉

    Comment by Annie — 5 November, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

  2. lovely to see some piccies, thank you.

    Comment by lucy — 6 November, 2006 @ 6:02 pm

  3. Yes, the Jacarandas are amazing. Over the past week they’ve started dropping their petals, and it looks like mauve snow on the ground. There’s something strange about how technicolour they are and how common they are. I guess it would be the equivalent in the UK to sycamores becoming gorgeous.

    Comment by aggy — 6 November, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

  4. Well for a “shit photographer”, those are some nice shots! Nice to see your piccies – more please!

    Comment by Paul — 14 November, 2006 @ 11:50 am

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