Sunday, July 5, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #1

My sister, bless her heart, is convinced that I should blog my experiences here in Johannesburg. Some are negative commentaries on the city, some are funny.

While today had it's own adventure (Bruma Flea-market), this entry will be about yesterday.

I recently got a car. I've been in Jo'burg for three months now. Three months, in the biggest city (arguably) in the country, without any automotive means of transport. Lifts to work have been available, but that's pretty much it.

At one point my work-lift offered me a chance to go to one of the few things I've really been excited about since I've moved here - the chance to go to South Africa's premier comic book, fantasy/sci-fi fiction, RPG shop, The Outer Limits. I went, I was a little disappointed (I expected it to be bigger), but ultimately was very happy to find a place that catered for my interests.

So I decided, what with my new car and all, to drive there, maybe pick up a comic or two, and drool over the painfully expensive RPG books.

Here's the problem: I don't know Jo'burg. At all.

I live in Kensington, which is pretty far south-east of city center. Eastgate Mall is a long work or short drive down a major road. I work in Rosebank, which is a little west-south-west of city center. My church is a few blocks away from where I work.

That's all I know, in terms of directions. A little of Rosebank, a little of Kensington, and exactly one (1) route between the two.

Now, Outer Limits is in Melville. Which is far enough that I'd certainly get lost going back streets. So armed only with a map book and four days of research on, I ventured on to the M3. Heads-up: I've never driven on Jo'burg highways before (I go via back-streets to work/church, and Eastgate is close enough that I don't need to use a highway). Let's just say that people are not happy with speed limits in this city while I obey them to the best of my ability... and this resulted in my complete lack of popularity on South African roads.

I survived the highway (despite it's best efforts), and got off at the Crown Interchange, which is to say that the M2 petered out and became (IIRC) Main Reef road. I took a few turns, got lost, consulted the map book, got confused, got unconfused, and got on to the right road.

Now, on, and on the Outer Limits website, their address is given as 8 Main Road. If you take the route I took, you end up on Brixton, followed by a few other streets, and the road eventually becomes Main Road, after which it becomes Ontdekkers. I drove up Main Road, found number 8, and... it was a gigantic mall. Outer Limits, from previous experience was a shop facing the street, off a raised pavement.

Suddenly: Confusion, panic, paranoia. Had they moved? Had they closed shop?

Saddened by this news, I trekked back to Kensington to sulk in my flat. Cue more M3 antics, people hooting on normal roads as I consulted my map book to find out where I was, and driving past a large group of protestors on Queen Street, toyi-toyi'ing and holding placards I couldn't read because of the police cars in the way.

So, finally arriving home from TWO HOURS on the road, getting lost, finding my way, getting lost again and finally getting nothing for my troubles, I consult with a friend of mine over IM, who informed me that Melville has *two* Main Streets. That intersect. And that I was about two blocks from the shop I was trying to find., in fact, guessed which Main Street Outer LImits was on, and got it wrong. I had spent an exhausting morning searching and getting nothing, because I trusted you Google. You fail me.

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