Friday, July 10, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #3

I've taken a short break from Adventures in Jo'burg because - frankly - life has been quite quiet. Also, work has been busy :)

Today I won't speak about any particular day. I want to take about a daily adventure: driving the streets of Johannesburg.

Now, I'm "hip", and "with it". I've played my fair share of Need for Speed (pick your flavour: Underground, Carbon, Most Wanted, Undercover). I'm good at travelling aggressively and fast. I'm also good at leaving that stuff at home, because I remember how often I've driven into walls at 120kph.

But nothing I've done could prepare me for Jo'burg roads. And you know what the main problem is? I'm a good person. Jo'burg drivers expect you to take every gap, no matter how suicidal it is. I've had guy centimeters from my back bumper, when I'm doing 80kph (in an 80kph zone) - if I'd slowed down at all, I would've been discussing insurers with them.

I've also discovered that the city of Johannesburg hates me. This time, I'm not referring to the people - though they loathe me too. The city itself - brick, mortar, electronics - hates me. I've yet to meet a robot (that's traffic lights to you from far away) that does not change to orange the second I've gotten to within five seconds drive of it.



That's the most frustrating time for it to happen, I'm not kidding. It means two things:

  1. Getting through the robots while maintaining speed is juuuuuust out of reach. You'll never make it on time, unless you go at least 20kph above the speed limit.
  2. You always spend the maximum period of time waiting at robots.

At the insistence of a friend who also drives Jo'burg daily, I've pushed through robots if it turns red as I go over the line. It's effective, but I feel both guilty and in extreme danger as I go through.

But back to the people of Johannesburg hating me - in case it wasn't immediately apparent, I believe in following the speed limit to the best of my ability. This is a lot more challenging in Jo'burg than you'd think. The number of frustrated drivers who have flashed brights, honked, and eventually just drove AROUND me in frustration (in single lane roads!) is getting worryingly high.

Add to all of this that I'm still learning Jo'burg, and live bordering on a "dodgy" area, so I do not want to stop and ask for directions, and when I drive I'm almost always nervous and hyper-tense.

But I like driving. And Jo'burg has some interesting places to go to.

Now if I could just find a vendor that sold Go boards...


  1. Ahahahahaha!! Sorry John :)

  2. Johanneburg streets hate me, but not as much as the drivers ON those streets. Today I had an arb merc pull in front of me (doing 75 kph to do so) on a major road, then the merc slowed down to 45 kph. TO SPITE ME.

    Yeah. Johannesburg drivers and me. We don't get along.