After 16 hours on a plane, we were ready to step on solid ground, get through immigration, and meet our driver to get to the hotel for a shower. We made it out to the waiting area in about 30 minutes. Lines were short and our bags were already circulating. Our driver recognized us and after a stop for some money we were off to the hotel – about 45 minutes away since the evening rush hour had ended.
During his descriptions of the area we passed through, our driver said that they think of themselves as a country only 18 years old which dates to the election of Nelson Mandela in1994. Based on what we were seeing, however, one could say it is only two years old. The airport and surrounding hotels, the high-speed rail line we watched speed by us on its way to Pretoria, and much of the road we traveled were built to be available for the World Cup here two years ago. One bridge we crossed opened one week before the games began.
Our hotel is in an upscale neighborhood next to a huge mall named for Nelson Mandela. We are about two blocks from the Radisson Blu where Michele Obama stayed when she visited. We passed several gated communities. They used to be all white, but now are open to anyone. The division is becoming more rich/poor with people of all races in each group.
|Entrance to the Nelson Mandela Center|