Some of you may remember my friend, Brenda Joyce, of African Romance, a gemologist from NY invited to South Africa years ago by Nelson Mandela to teach blacks how to cut, polish and grade diamonds. Well, sadly African Romance had to close its doors. Brenda has since relocated to Ghana with a focus on gold mining. At any rate, she still has her Joburg contacts and was able to connect me with Isa Schwartz, daughter of Schwartz Jewelers in business since 1924.
This morning, after checking out of Michaelangelo, Isa met us in the lobby and walked us to their new store 3 minutes away in the adjacent mall. How convenient! They just settled into the new place last week and we were their first customers. Isa is a delightful young lady; bubbly and full of laughter. The diamond jewelry in the showcases was dazzling, blinding and most breathtaking. The store was buzzing with excitement as several made their purchases. They had about 2 hours to shop while us non shoppers waited back at the hotel. A few thought they would play it safe and leave their credit cards and money safe on the bus only to return so they could pay for whatever caught their eye.
Our drive to Ivory Tree Game Lodge was 2 hrs away and we would arrive just in time for afternoon tea followed by our evening game drive. Half way there we had a comfort stop and Lord have mercy, a half hour shopping opportunity at the Chameleon Village. This was a gigantic covered shopping emporium, run by local artisans and reminiscent of the middle eastern grand bazaars. Chameleon, a name I sometimes call our new grand baby, Sakari because her eye color and her looks change daily. I should searched for some baby items for her here but since she likes to beat on throw pillows and her daddy’s tummy; I had already put in an order for one of those leather pillow instruments used by the church folks in Soweto. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be another Sheila E.
As usual we received a warm welcome at Ivory Tree. Check in was nice and quick and golf carts were on hand for those needing assistance getting to their cottages. Afternoon tea was about to begin. Our group was paired with Rangers Sheldon and Carolyn who seemed to be quite cool and knowledgeable. In my vehicle was cousin R Kelly and his crew, Jill Scott and Eve. They were hilarious! This being my 4th time at Ivory Tree and my 6th overall game drive experience, I knew what floated my boat and that happened to be the serenity and solitude of the evening drive as the African sun sets. It wasn’t before I was napping after the first sighting of elephants, gnus, wildebeest, and zebra. Overheard as I was drifting off….”This place is the bomb”, ” the kind of place you take your Boo, only leave your real Boo at home”. What??
Then seeing so many giraffes up close and personal, we noticed the 12″ of hair on the tails. Comment from Eve, “Let me get 5 bundles of that hair”. Gary laughed and said, “yeah, when you get back to the states you’ll say, “y’all don’t know ’bout this South African Giraffe hair”.
Coming out of my nap I noticed night had fallen and we were making our way back to the lodge for dinner; I took this time to reflect on how memorable our Joburg stay was;friendships formed with the local folk and communications that were exchanged with people along this journey. Ms Florence at the church told me she had 3 sons but 2 had already died. Some of you know where that hit me. She asked me, “Who is going to bury me”? She didn’t wait for an answer, not that I had one but she continued in and said, “You will have to come back and bury me”.
Then. there is Joe Motsogi, our wonderful, soft spoken guide who was incarcerated and tortured for 9 months in 1978 at the age of 25. He was charged with Incitement which amounted to organizing people for non-violent protests. He was held in the jail in downtown Joburg where they placed a plastic hood over his head, threw him in a dam and if that wasn’t enough, attached electrical prods to his genitals. But through it all he remains a kind and peaceful man. Anytime I bring a group to Joburg, Joe will always be my guide of choice.
So now, back at the lodge, I rushed through dinner because I had a date with my outdoor raintree shower under the star filled, black South African midnight sky.
Next stop Cape Town , tomorrow an afternoon flight and we check into the 5 star Table Bay at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.