Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sandboarding in Joburg (Aug 13-15)

Esther, Erin and I made a last minute decision to go to Joburg to visit Sudeb for a ‘southern Africa Stanford reunion’ weekend. On the road to South Africa, we were stopped at a speed trap for going 80km/hr in a 60km/hr zone (which we weren’t) and asked to pay 400 Rand (which we didn’t have). Together we scrounged up 100 Rand, which didn’t cover the bribe, but was apparently enough for a real ticket. So we were sent down to the local police station and paid our ticket to a stunned policeman who I’m sure hadn’t dealt with a ticket in years. He couldn’t find the receipt book, wasn’t sure where the stamps were, and took a long, long time to write it. Not surprisingly, the other three cars that were stopped never showed up at the police station.

In Joburg, we got lost at the airport and our friends had to come pick us up from there. Then we spent several hours in the NICD lab drinking tea and encouraging Sudeb to finish his PCRs. When we had had enough tea, we drove ourselves to a restaurant for dinner and were promptly turned away because of dress code (we did look like tourists from the bush). We finally had dinner at around 10pm in Sandton and then felt too tired to do anything other than go to bed- things would be better in the morning. And they were, slightly. We joined a group of people to go sandboarding in a mine dump in Benoni (a suburb just east of Joburg) which was terrific! How many people can say they’ve been sandboarding on a mine dump! This is best described as a post-apocalyptic adventure a la Mad Max (as coined by Erin). Thanks to Eleanor for organizing and inviting us. Given the amount of sand that we took back with us (I found sand in my ears two days later!), it was reassuring to know that they do check the levels of dangerous chemicals every six months.

Sudeb looking slick as usual!

Group Photo

Esther tearing up the slope

Shayne the official photographer

On the way home, we got completely lost in the dark and kept circling the Cradle of Humankind- it was like a mysterious magnetic force that wouldn’t let us out of it’s grasp. Erin also saw a flying impala, which was in fact a “giant ass bat”. When we finally neared Botswana, we missed the border crossing and had to find a B&B to stay at overnight. Esther was also feeling sick. Then we locked the keys in the car at a gas station in Zeerust. We were quite the town attraction for about 30 min, with everyone coming to give advice and rigging tools to open the doors. There were cheers when someone opened a window after breaking off the sun shield, and we were able to crawl into bed. We crossed the border early the next morning (with the only annoyance being the customs official asking Erin to marry him) to make it back in time for an 8am lab meeting. In retrospect, it was clearly a dangerous and imprudent situation, but all things considered, I was exceedingly proud of the way the three of us were able to handle adversity and laugh at the situation (albeit a little hysterically).


Anonymous Geoff said...

Nice photos--how come there are no close-ups of Melissa?! I am assuming she also sandboarded...

That adventure is really something--I am glad you all came out of that safely. Enjoy your weekends, but keep your wits aout you.


8:28 PM  
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