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SOUTH AFRICA: Experiences in Johannesburg's Townships and Suburbs from our eyes

South Africa:  Experiences in Johannesburg's Townships and Suburbs from our eyes

Johannesburg has a reputation. It's character and history have made it the city that it is. So many people call Johannesburg home. We had the opportunity to experience staying with our gracious African friends in their lovely home in the nearby suburbs of Johannesburg called Brakenhurst,  Alberton. It is a more upscale neighbourhood where homes have high walls, each home has a security system with electric wire fence to make their fortress safe.

 Our friends told us that the insurance company makes everyone do that. Our friends were discriminated by the White neighbours before they moved in, but the landlady is a lawyer, so everyone is quiet now.

Our friends collected us from the airport and took us to their home which had been decorated specially in honour of our visit. We were treated like Zulu kings!

 Flower petals were greeting us at the door step, and a lavish lunch waiting for us! 

 We connected with them so perfectly and we have a wonderful relationship! By hanging around and helping in the kitchen I even learned some local cooking secrets! 

We had really fun dinner parties with a local celebrity showing up!

We will also share our experiences with our opportunity to see the townships. Famous ones like Soweto, and also Katlehong, and an estate living place called The Falls Lifestyle Estate, which is in Johannesburg.

Some friends are living there too, where we had dinner together.

Katlehong is a township which has a fun dance club called Hurricane. 

 The atmosphere was groove, and everyone there was enjoying and very kind-  I was the only European guy there but was received with kindness and handshakes and pats on the back, and smiles! There are other clubs nearby which we only peered our heads into, as it was already so late for us, but we promise to come back and enjoy them next visit.

Soweto is a very lively and avant garde neighbourhood now.
Many of the people there were of the younger fashionable crowd, and progressive, as we were holding hands together ( men holding hands openly) and we didn't get stared at.

Our visit to this area was very short but sweet and a wonderful introduction which whets our appetite to explore more intimately Johannesburg city as well as more of the surrounding townships and regions! Can't wait to return again!

MACANETA, MOZAMBIQUE: A guy's party weekend at a beach house in Mozambique

A guys' party Weekend at a Mozambique Beach House

 We had an absolutely fabulous and magical weekend at the beach, Mozambique style!  
Travelling with three of our lovely South African friends, we travelled by a 4 by 4 vehicle from the Johannesburg area and got a tourist visa easily at the border between South Africa and crossed the border into exotic Mozambique!

We had arrangements with a French friend of ours who was a professor in Maputo, and owned a fun beach house in a very remote location near Marracuene as his get away play house. He invited around 10 very randy, horny Mozambique-an guys, who were in their 20s and early 30s to join us in the fun.

 The fun part is they were all handsome and very playfully frisky the whole time we were there.

The beach house was located on a very remote part of a sandy peninsula like area, which made it very private and perfect for guy parties. We all became friends and worked together like a perfect team, as we had to do all the cooking, cleaning and everything else together. The Mozambique-an guys did local cooking, so we got to try real local style food! 

The meals included "sheema" which is similar to "Fufu" and eaten with your fingers, it soaks up sauces and assists in eating without a fork. I thoroughly enjoyed every meal experience.  We went into a nearby town to get local vegetables, and fresh fish from the local markets! It was a fun experience!

In the evening after dinner and everything was cleaned up, we would have more drinks and turn on dance music. We danced together until the wee hours!

Sleeping was in different rooms, sometimes guys alternating between room to room, and in other locations throughout the beach house as well as small annex cottages. Shall I politely say "naughty experiences" occurred every night?

We played on the beach together and brought with us some wine, bottles of gin, a cooler of beer and other kinds of alcohol. When my eyes caught sight of the perfect blue water and the perfect sand, I galloped like a deer as if the water was a magnet pulling me to it. The water was absolutely perfect! Absolutely!

We enjoyed ourselves the whole day, bringing along an amplifier to play fun music which we danced to ( I danced more after I had sips of everyone's drink as well as a few local Mozambique beers of my own!). We started to catch the attention of other local people nearby and they sometimes danced with us. 

The beach was inhabited with local people and the feeling was vibrant, happy and exciting!  We had grilled chicken, and I tried the local grilled fish with local periperi sauce. Perfect!

 We had truly a wonderful time!

Our friend allowed us to stay the night in his colonial style apartment in Maputo, very comfortable and nostalgic, before we started making our way back to South Africa.

Mozambique claimed our hearts, and we are absolutely going to make an effort to visit other parts of that beautiful country, and to make a reunion with many of our Mozambique friends who we are in contact with now on social media.

TIJUANA MEXICO: Tijuana from my own experiences, with happy memories

Tijuana, Mexico, from the eyes of many people in USA often conjure thoughts of ominous backstreets, notorious crime and gangfights. It has this reputation because it is a border city with the United States. At the border area one could feel a strange energy of anxiety in the air, and a sense of unease. The barbed wire full of knife sharp edges reminded me of when I was crossing from Turkey into Syria for the first time.

Cameras were peering out up to the spot where a large sign reading "Mexico", assuring us that we had crossed into Mexican territory. I admit there was a kind of emotion from my heart from that whole crossing experience.

We paid a visit to our wonderful friend Alejandro, who live there. He graciously met us both right at the USA and Mexico border crossing, and took us to his comfortable and welcoming home for a fun weekend. First we stopped off at a local restaurant. It was a small restaurant with local people, and only Spanish spoken. From time to time someone would walk in the restaurant with goods to hawk, going from table to table, and a Mexican band with men playing guitars would sing in the restaurant.

Our friend Alejandro helped us with ordering. I enjoyed and sampled the different kinds of food!

Darkness from the night altered my vision from the activities and sights outside of the car window. I saw back streets, some streets going up steep hills like in San Francisco. Lights from shops, bars, and people walking around carrying on with their business. Our friend said that the drinking age in Mexico was 18, and many US Americans who are not able to drink in their own country would  cross the border to party and drink.

He told us about the clubs and the other activities associated with the clubs in Tijuana as we sped by the flashy lights of clubs, and on our way to our friend's home close to the beach area of Tijuana, in a quiet neighbourhood.

We spent the evenings having wonderful heart to heart conversations over a few bottles of Mexican wine which we experienced from some wine tasting sessions!

We experienced another beach town named Rosarita. During the summer season this town has a very popular beach which is crowded along the seashore. We went to enjoy during low season where only a few groups were nearby. Wandering around the town had a feel like a summer holiday town which was preparing to sleep for the season.
   source:   internet photo

  source:   internet photo 

Our visit to the area felt great. Everyone was polite and cheerful and we really enjoyed everything.  The only moment where we were treated brashly was from the crude attitude at the American immigration passport control crossing back to USA from Mexico.

QUERETARO Mexico: A day trip on the Cheese and Wine Trail

Queretaro: A Day Trip on the Cheese and Wine Trail

We got an opportunity to experience a fun day trip with our wonderful Couchsurfing hosts to a cheese factory and a winery on the "Wine and Cheese Trail".
After the tour of the winery, there is a paella dinner served with a glass of wine from the winery, served outside with the vineyards surrounding us as our view.

Boarding a comfortable bus the three-hour ride to the location seemed to go quickly as we fell asleep.

                our Couchsurfing friends Raul and Isaac

             We like the fancy nets we had to wear

Upon arrival we all had some samples of the cheese produced at the cheese factory which was set in a bucolic farmhouse feel with a cellar underground where the cheese would age. The explanations were only in Spanish, but we had an idea of how cheese was made, so it was easy to look at the demonstrations.

Next was a stop at a winery which was not far away. Again, the explanations were only in Spanish. We looked at all the bottles and wine barrels which were deep down in a cool cellar.

At the end of the winery, we went to a large area of tables and were served paella, which was probably Mexican style paella, or an interpretation of what they thought paella was. 

                our friends ordered portobello mushroom- maybe they knew better?

The glass of wine which they produced was really nice and we bought another bottle to open and share so that it would overshadow the paella. The ambiance had a lively and fun atmosphere.

We after the meal strolled around the grounds and rested in the shade under a large tent. 

After some moments of leisurely rest, we boarded the bus again and headed back to Mexico City and arrived after nightfall.

Our Couchsurfing friends made our walking back have a romantic feel to it as we experienced a stroll past some beautiful buildings which they were proud of.