Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flashback: A night in the Johannesburg police barracks

Our friend Bridget had a series once of Flashback Fridays, and they were some of my favorite posts of hers to read. I probably will not steal the idea and post a flashback every Friday, but I found my old South Africa journal on a flash drive at my in-laws' house and started thinking back to some of my craziest adventures there. Oh, to be young and incredibly stupid again.

One of the craziest events that transpired the summer of 2007 was the time I spent the night in the central Johannesburg police barracks with a couple of guys I had never met. From May-August 2007, I lived in East London, South Africa on a BYU Field Study program. My fellow BYU student and friend Stephanie and I were traveling by bus from East London to Johannesburg to catch a flight to Zimbabwe when our bus got trapped in a "canyon" somewhere around in the Orange Free State due to a freak ice storm. We ended up stuck for long enough to miss our flight that was taking off the next day, so something like 24 hours or so.

When we finally got unstuck and were on our way, we had called the airline and rescheduled our flight for several days later. We made it to Johannesburg, but now had a day and a night to spend there. Rather than spend a small amount of money on a cheap hostel, Stephanie suggested we call her friend Victor (I think). She had met him at the LDS temple in Joburg several weeks prior to this, and thought him a trustworthy enough guy. She called him and of course, in true South African fashion, was glad to pick us up from the bus station, show us around and offer us a bed to sleep in. Him and friend picked us up and we jaunted about in downtown Johannesburg, grabbed some victuals, and headed to his home. When we pulled up to the gate outside the central Joburg police station, I thought it might be a joke. When his friend flashed his ID and the gates opened, I realized it was not.

They parked the car and without really telling us anything, showed us into the barracks and there tiny kitchen. They served us some rooibos tea and showed us to the room we could stay in, clean with two twin beds clean and nicely made up. Steph and I sat down and maybe had a bit of a freak out at the prospect of spending the night there. But then again, it was probably the safest place to spend the night if you must do it in Johannesburg. I'm pretty sure we barely slept that night, and then almost missed our rescheduled flight the next day because "the airport is only like 10 minutes away!" in South African means it is actually 45 minutes.

Nevertheless, we made it to Zimbabwe by the skin of our teeth. AND had an amazing story to tell in the end, in which we were neither raped nor robbed nor murdered.

Landing in Zimbabwe.

Hooray, Vic Falls!

1 comment:

  1. That hair! I'm so glad you weren't raped, robbed, or murdered in South Africa.