Even on vacation I cannot sleep, I was up by 7:45, though the bed was comfortable enough. The youthful hostelers are up and preparing their breakfasts already or reading by the pool. It is surprising; you would think these young people would be sleeping in. It has already amazed me at how much cooking these young people do here. I wonder if they do as much at home or at school. We spent most of the morning, or actually all of the morning planning much of our time here. We booked a tour for Dec. 23, 24th, and 27th. Nothing is happening on the 25th or 26th, they celebrate Boxing Day. We may take in a movie if Ron has his way. We went upstairs to the bar area for a latte. It is nicely decorated in an African theme also. The whole place is very tastefully decorated. They do make a decent latte and it is not expensive either. Twice the size of what you would get in Budapest.
We headed downtown looking for the Pan African Market at the suggestion of the travel agent here at the hostel. We found a place we thought was it, but it was not. They did have a lovely elephant mask that I would have loved to have, but transporting it home on Wizz would be an issue. We went to many shops and street markets. It is such a temptation to see all of these books stores with books in English, so many are used bookstores also. Then there is transport issue again. At the street fairs, everyone greets us with the same greeting, “Hello, I make you a good price.” They all seem desperate to sell. There do not seem to be many tourists around yet. After an hour, it was either sensory overload or something else, the stalls all starting looking alike, though the masks are very different and each has its own story to tell. We stopped a restaurant for a snack and sat down outside. We were waited on by a charming waitress named Tanya. She was very lively and friendly. Tanya told us that due to the crime, all of the businesses within a block pool their resources and hire private security guards to patrol the area. Still the center city is closed down after 6:00 pm.
The hostel people told us to take a taxi to and from downtown if we go out at night, other wise it is too dangerous to walk.
We did find a mask we liked in the real Pan African market and negotiated it down to 350 Rand from 700. The salesmen were two brothers from Cameroon, thought the mask is from Swaziland, a separate country in eastern South Africa. When we walked through the park where Parliament, the president’s house, we met this young man who moved here from Zimbabwe, named Gilbert (firstname.lastname@example.org). He does bead work on wire to look like animal trophy heads. We would have bought one immediately, but we did not have enough cash on us. We told him we would return and we are sure he thought it was the usual tourist line. For bead work, they were very dramatic and beautifully crafted.
For dinner, we went to Checkers grocery store, bought a cheese bread, cut up pumpkin, a roasted chicken, and butter. By the time we returned to Ashanti, the kitchen was buzzing with activity, so we had to wait until much later, not eating until 9:00 pm. We used the time to read and write and then went to bed at 11:30. Tomorrow’s plan is to take the Hop on Hop off bus for the day.