Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Walking in Gauteng

After the house burned down in October 2013, we have been staying with either Golden Boy in Randpark Ridge or with Elder Daughter in Craighall Park. 

They say that bad things come in threes - well first was the fire that completely burned up more than 60 years worth of memories, then I got sick and thirdly the car started giving trouble!  Just as we were about to spend some time in Pilanesberg National Park.

OAP took it to a recommended mechanic who performed miracles with our elderly "home on wheels" and we were able to have the few days in the Park bird-watching and just being back in our beloved bush.  Then recently, after another week in the Park, we started feeling vibration when pulling away and OAP was worried that 1st gear was packing in and promptly took the car back to Glen (our wizard).  It wasn't the gears but something much more simple but just as important so once again we are without wheels.

Being without a car is a whole different ball game and we join the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians, slogging along the sides of the roads where pavements should be, carrying heavy shopping bags in the broiling hot sun and being subjected to exhaust fumes, honking horns and the general cacophony of the road.

Pavements, by the way, are sometimes there and mostly in pretty bad shape and sometimes, most of the time, NOT!   When there IS a pavement it will have various obstacles along its short length, like stumps of signposts, holes where a manhole-cover should be, long ditches where a certain telephone service provider had plans to bury cable but never finished the job and rubble from said ditches overgrown with weeds or just heaps of rubble with no hole in sight!  Where the pavement disappears this is normally due to householders enthusiastically gardening right up to the road!  Sometimes desperate pedestrians have made a narrow path through these jungles but most of the time the plants on the pavements are robust and force the walker to step into the face of the oncoming traffic!  And don't get me started on the subject of litter!  What a nation of absolute pigs we are and how disappointing to walk in a street that resembles the local tip.  I remember driving through the once exquisite town of Butterworth in the Transkei about 10 years ago and wanting to cry because of the heaps of rubbish that lined the roads.  Well Joburg is fast becoming a second Butterworth.

We have discovered roads that aren't congested with traffic and we learnt to cross the road at a particular spot to avoid open manholes, rubble heaps and quagmires from leaking water mains and we happily walk to the shopping centre about 3 km away to see a movie or have lunch. We even managed to drag my 12 year old grandson with us during the school holidays, even though he was a bit embarrassed that we looked like "poor whites"!!  We bumped into 3 of his school chums on that outing but as they were walking too he almost changed his mind!

Remember the days when we thought nothing of walking to and from school - it must have been at least 2 km from home and we regularly got caught in a rain shower on the way home - it was just the normal thing to do in those days.

So next time you are driving and curse the pedestrians who are walking in the road, remember my blog and understand THEIR frustration too.

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