Just a quick note for those of those interested that I have arrived safe and sound in Joburg! It took an extra day to get here as I got stuck in Montreal due to snow, but I got here Friday (it took 4 days!) and have been getting oriented. Enjoying the sun (which is lucky because it is usually rainy this time of year), and have been thoroughly welcomed by CIVICUS, and especially my co-worker Ben and his partner Per. Ben has had to work a lot, in preparation for the big workshop we have all next week, so Per has been wonderful showing me around, treating me to the fresh fruit of the area, taking me on tours in the car and generally making me feel very welcome. I am staying with them now, but will be moving tomorrow to the hotel where we will be running next week's workshop. Busy busy! After that, on Friday of next week, I will move into my new place--- i went to see it today, and it looks good. I will write more about it when i have been there more than a few mins...
Basic first impressions of Joburg: extremes between rich and poor. Duh... i know. Not rocket science. But it is still distracting to notice such extremes, and in sich close proximity to each other. Accordingly, one does become very conscious of security. Everyone you meet has stories of having had things stolen--- and not just keys and money. Laptops and cars, etc... So I will be extra cautious until i learn the ropes a bit. Id rather be paranoid and safe for the first bit, than start off on the wrong foot and get robbed.
Also, I am struck by the flora. Apparently there is very little indigenous to the area, so most everything is imported. However, because the climate is so great, EVERYTHING thrives here! So you get oaks next to palm trees, passion fruits and lavender and carpets of thyme, you get bougainvillia and every kind of flowering bush and tree. And because the growing season is basically constant, there is always something flowering somewhere. Beautiful!
Anyway, everyone seems very friendly, and I have no reservations thus far. I am a bit nervous about eventually getting a car, etc... but I am assured that it is not a big deal with the driving on the wrong side of the road, and the bad traffic, etc... once you have started driving. Well perhaps, but it feels daunting after only your first few days here... But i will have to figure it out, so there you go!
So that is it for now. Will be quite busy this coming week at the workshop, so check back next weekend for a new post. Hope all is well with everyone, and keep in touch!