Heidi made arrangements for us to stay at an Airbnb in Pretoria for our first few nights in South Africa. This would allow us time to request the police clearance certificate in person and become acclimated to the new season (though the time zone was the same as in Germany, we had gone from autumn to spring).
Our Airbnb ending up being a tiny studio apartment in a gated office building in the outskirts of Pretoria. The accommodation was modest but comfortable and reasonable at about $30/night.
I had rented a car at JNB and after getting settled we drove over Shoprite, a major grocery chain in South Africa. After parking and locking our car, a man came up to us and asked whether he should watch the car for us.
Before I could answer, Heidi said, “Yes please.”
Puzzled, I asked what that was about and she explained very matter-of-factly that these men ensure your car is not broken into while you are shopping. If you tell them no, “They turn the other way when your car is broken into.” She insisted this was normal and said we only needed to tip about 10 Rand (75 cents).
We would set foot in a lot of Shoprites over the next month and would go through the same ritual each time of agreeing that our car should be watched. Tonight, we just bought enough food for dinner and breakfast.
Back in the parking lot, I tipped our friendly “guard” and we returned “home” where Heidi prepared a nice puedo-Mexican meal for me (my comfort food wherever I am in the world).
The internet worked and I settled in to start working. Would we just spend a quiet month in a tiny apartment in Pretoria? We could have…but we didn’t.
Thankfully, the road trip would soon begin.
Have you ever “lived” in another country for a month (i.e., not vacation)? Did you stay in one place or move around?
Read More of My Month in Africa Trip Report
Introduction: A Month in Africa
Review: Houston to Lagos in United Airlines 787 Business
Transit in Lagos: Bribing My Way Out
Review: Oasis Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Review: Gabfol Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Review: Lagos to Johannesburg in South African Airways Economy Class