Walking, Driving, Getting Lost in Sandton

My morning walk up Rivonia Road took me past bank buildings, a soccer field and a McDonald’s. After a ten minute walk I arrived at Avis car rental, but not before seeing the neighboring restaurant’s sign: “Freddie Mercury Dinner September 8.” In his honor? In the manner of? Which I cannot say, but I was super into it. I spent an hour in Avis working through the discrepancy between the online rate and the store rate I’d been quoted and booked. At the conclusion I ended up with Collision Insurance and Unlimited Kilometers. Methinks I need to learn these roads so I can exploit the kilometers allowance.

Then I managed to successfully navigate over to Sandton City. Given that this involves three turns it is not so impressive, but what is impressive is that I managed to find the right parking garage after circling the complexes only once! Reference point for DC-MD-VA residents – this is akin to successfully navigating Tysons Corner I if you had no department stores to go off of. Go garage 4G! You would not be wrong to speculate that I sang a song of triumph when I passed the sliding doors by Checkers and then commenced a smug happy dance once in my parking spot.

Inside the mall I made a few stops to purchase two adapters, both of which were cheaper than the ones I’d seen the previous day, some Tupperware, a GPS device, knock-off Moleskine journals, and more beans. Mission “shit I forgot to buy yesterday” accomplished. I also popped into Nescaffee to drool over their coffee machines. I want one called the Pixie. It doesn’t have the milk frother built in like some of the larger models, but I can get another device to froth my milk.

I only had to do one U-turn to get back to my apartment and after a brief lunch of beans and avocado I decided it was time to test my new friend Garmin and my ability to drive on the left side of the road. What route could be more appropriate to start with than the route I will be driving every day? To ECIAfrica Consulting’s office of course, only an 11 minute drive from my apartment (for now)! I studied the route on Google Maps and wrote it out on paper just in case Garmin didn’t work out. The drive requires 6 turns and 2 of them I walked this morning, so I had those under control.

The bad news first: I got super turned around because a lot of the highway merge ramps are run not via clover-leaf ramps but by a traffic light at the top of the merge at which you either go left, right or straight. But which way do you go when only the direction of straight is marked?!? I am sure in a month I will have some basic routes figured out and this confusion will be a thing of the past, but for now the 11 minute drive took 25 minutes and I don’t even know what roads I was on other than M1 and R55.

The good news second: Garmin is great – except for a repeated cue to “turn on X and follow Slip Road.” There is no such road, friends. At least not that I saw marked on the road or on the GPS map. So basically it is a good thing I waited to test the drive until I had a GPS system otherwise I could very well be in Pretoria right now.  The main roads, such as M40, M1, N1, have exit numbers! Awesome sauce.  I’ve also found that the tune “left is best, left is best, left is best” to be a very effective device for staying on the correct side of the road.  Turns out the office is really easy to get to if you make the correct turns. Feeling confident about having found the office and successfully making my way back to M1, I decided to divert to Innesfree Park on my way back home. It is supposed to have a lot of pretty trees and I am craving nature. However, I quickly realized this was a terrible idea given that I had to remind myself to breathe. One thing at a time! So back home I went, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Tomorrow is my first day at work! I have no expectations of what it will be like, but I am very excited to meet my new colleagues and see how they do things in ECIAfrica.


New Impressions:

These roads are wide and the highway overhead signs are good, but the ramps would benefit from better marking at splits and turns. I am going to get lost a lot. I anticipate needing an extra 30 minutes to get anywhere I’m going. I also have no idea how rush-hour plays into these drives.

I love South African accents. I’ve yet to hear one I don’t enjoy or envy. I wonder how the American accent sounds to South Africans. So far the guy at Vodacom said to a colleague “I need to help this American,” so clearly he knows what’s up. But the folks in Avis asked where I was from. So who knows?

The singers on “Idols SA” have just as many issues with song choice as do the contestants on “American Idol.