.. but trust me on the sunscreen - 22 January 2005

South Africa: where I've seen thing you people wouldn't believe. The mighty hippo's nostrils. I watched mad taxis glitter in the dark near every stop. Sudden storms like tears from ten billions eyes. Beautiful people in a fantastic country. Time to remember.

Living those final days

Lindsey began working for the new school, so I had every morning for myself. I basically spent the mornings recovering from an annoying flu with my blocked nose, and sorting pictures on the laptop. I tried to get up and go for a run, but due to the Jo'burg altitude (2500 meters above sea level) I found it quite difficult. But I have many great highlights from that last week:

Olaf Tiger WoodsPlaying and winning on monday on the weirdest miniature golf course ever invented, a mixture of jungle and concrete fantasy, with the longest holes ever seen. I even lost a ball during my 40 meters shot, and when I say lost I mean "drowned somewhere in the muddy river 5 meters down there, just next to the green".

On tuesday, with Kirsten and Shari and obviously Lindsey we enjoyed a great day at the Gold Reef City Theme Park, riding every single fastGirls power ride, and getting wet (well, Lindsey did) on some other funny rides.
The Gold Reef City complex has been built like the Johannesburg of the last century, when gold and diamond diggers looked for the precious metal and stones in the area. It looked like part of Disneyland, or maybe like the kind of "Gone with the wind" look of Atlanta many many years ago. I'm sure there is a name for that style, but I don't remember.
Closed, unfortunatelyAnaconda!I'm particularly proud of myself because I managed to go on all the crazy rides although my stomach was in pain the whole day. I must be a hero.
By the way, for some reasons they have a small open air zoo inside. They have so many animals in this country then they must put them in the most unusual places! Sisters

In the evening the complete Thomson family invited me to a Indian restaurant where, for few rands (the local currency) I enjoyed what was probably the best Indian food I've ever had. Including a fantastic lentil soup...

In the botanic GardensOn wednesday me and Lins visited the Walter Sisulu Botanic Gardens, and thanks to the unstable weather (it rained minutes later we paid the ticket) the gardens were completely empty, and walking without anyone talking around you, just enjoying the great view of the waterfalls in the stormy weather was another great moment of my trip. Just a shame that all the eagles were hiding somewhere, up there.

Thursday was my big day: time to see some cricket action.
Start of the matchEngland was playing against the host in the Wanderers Stadium the first day of the Fourth Test Match, and due the cheapness of the tickets (around 2 pounds) we drove there to enjoy a full day of cricket. C'mon!
My previous experience with cricket (England versus New Zealand at the Lord's in London) was a short one and I still didn't get the rules.
Thanks to Shari, a former cricket player, I could finally appreciate the beauty of this fantastic sport. I'm probably the only italian or polish living guy who has ever said that. I like cricket. That's it. I love it.
Maybe the sun, the people, the friendly stadium and the cheap food helped me enjoy the experience even more, but England played well and even if I was disguised as South African with the national The grass standsflag on my cheek, I was always hoping England would win. And, few days later, thanks to Hoggard's 7 wickets, they won.
On our way back I even saw an elephant, next to the road... South African in disguise

I spent the final evening with Lindsey driving on the Jo'Burg hills, in the maze of road, small streets and curves, direction the might Water Tower. It was raining heavily and we spent many minutes trying to find our way to the top of the hill, surrounded by big villas just like on Mulholland Drive, LA.
From the top of the hill, next to the big Water Tower, I could see Johannesburg by night the same way few days before, on table mountain, I saw Capetown. Water Tower

The saddest day was friday, when my plane was leaving. Saying goodbye to the great people I met (Lindsey's family and Shari) was very sad, especially knowing that I don't know if I'll come back in the next future. 10.000 km ain't no joke, unfortunately.
Me, backBut looking for one last time at Lindsey before saying goodbye, the only thing I could say was a big thank you for everything she has done to make my holiday in South African unforgettable. And she did everything right. Danki, ehi!

12 hours later (and without sleep thanks to more movies on the plane), I was back in the cold and freezing London's winter, looking like an explorer from a different continent, with my shorts still on me and my skin peeling off like an old snake.

Welcome back, Olaf, and please stop peeling off that skin from your arms and shoulders!

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