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Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 11 Friday 3rd August
a combined effort by the B team

Today was our first complete, whole, everybody-together outing! In addition to the 22 team members we also took Wesley and Nelson (two of the students at the Alathea Bible College). The college students don’t get many opportunities for outings, so we were delighted to be able to share this opportunity. We travelled for two hours and then stopped at the Spar service station (which is a posh name for a rather basic refreshment stop). We stocked up with refreshments for the rest of our journey – only to discover that our destination (a massive shopping centre on the outskirts of Pretoria) was just 30 minutes.

The shopping mall was just like the Oracle Shopping Centre – big and shiny – but the car parking was only 60p for 3 hours rather than several pounds you pay in Reading! We had great fun amongst familiar shops – looking for books, postcards, Ipod earphones, stamps, binoculars, toys and games. Tony was tempted to buy and Ipad but was restrained. We all found different places to eat lunch, and all were well fed.

Three hours stretched to four, allowing time for some ice creams to be purchased before we climbed back on board our three trusty minivans. Then we set off on Tim’s mystery tour of Pretoria – first stop, the Union Building, a beautiful building of palatial proportions with views over Pretoria. We enjoyed wandering round the manicured gardens and taking many photos of the team.
Then we drove round Church Square (English) or Kerkplein (Afrikaans), which is the historic centre of the city. Its most prominent feature is the statue of the Boer leader and president of the South African Republic Paul Kruger at its centre. Statues of four anonymous Boer citizen-soldiers surround that of Kruger's on a lower level of the plinth.

Several historically and architecturally significant buildings surround the square: the Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Tudor Chambers, the Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the General Post Office, which was designed by John Cleland. The turreted Palace of Justice was the scene of arguably the most famous political trial in South Africa's history, the Rivonia Trial. During this trial, Nelson Mandela and a number of other prominent liberation struggle figures were charged with treason and subsequently incarcerated.

All of which was very interesting, but for one thing, we had chosen Friday rush hour to drive through this historic city. Which meant that the roads were packed with workers heading home for the weekend – joined by a convoy of three minivans full of English tourists. It felt a little like driving through the centre of London, only the driving here is even wilder!

We stopped on our way home at the Spar centre on the A573 to KwaMahlunga, where the lovely lady in the car park recognized us immediately. By this time it was around 6.17pm and it was dark – and the traffic had built up and was like a never ending sake of red lights with big orange buses, huge articulated lorries, cars of every size and the ubiquitous taxis (which are like minibuses). We saw the most amazing display of African driving skills – when the two lanes of traffic were moving slowly, we saw drivers pull out to make a third lane, potentially going straight into oncoming traffic!! Not only that, but some frustrated drivers even drove up on the verge by the left hand side of the road. Thankfully we managed to get back to Siyabuswa safely, with many more special memories and special photos of a rather orange moon.

When we got back to our base Rose started looking through some of our thank you cards. Here are some quotes from some of those lovely cards from the children at Grace School:
'You are an old tree that can survive in all seasons.'
'God bless you all, in all you do.'
'You guys rock!'

Good night all!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing some of these pictures when you can upload a few.