Friday, July 25, 2014

Riding South Africa's Bongos

Getting around any one of the cities in South Africa is as easy as waving down a communal mini-van, and jumping in. The driver will take you where you want to go, timing based on where the others in the van want to go too. A perfect system!

This form of transport is the bongo bus - and you can pick it out from the other vehicles on the road because it is white, and has the South African rainbow colours in a strip down it's side.

In Pretoria, a group of us flagged down one when we were out sight-seeing, and persevered in helping us find the cemetery of Breaker Morant's final resting place, despite not having a clue what we were talking about and reviewing our very vague directions. We made many other stops first, into neighbourhoods we definitely would not have seen, before he took us to where he thought we meant. And he was spot on. He also waiting, and took us back to the train station when we were done.

In Port Elizabeth, I caught the bongo to the cricket on a few of the mornings. Our tour, Waving The Flag, usually provides transport, and he did for this test, but I will always choose a sleep in and the chance to see something else on the way in to the ground, rather than getting to the stadium and watching the grass grow before play. For these rides I tried my luck on the main road near our hotel - a fixer was riding in the front seat, picking out new passengers as they went along. It never took long for a bongo to come along.

Jumping in and figuring out the pay system, and then smiling hello to the other people on board, these trips into the cricket felt liberating! Real travel, riding the locals transport, and getting a glimpse into their every day lives.

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