David’s Birthday and Market on the Main

Yesterday was June 21, David’s 56th birthday.   Unlike me, David tends to enjoy a more low-key birthday.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I celebrate the whole month of September.  It is my “birthday month”!!!  

It is very difficult to buy anything for David as we usually buy things as we want or need them.  This year, the only thing that he has mentioned is a tool kit for his new car.  There are several different kits and I had no idea which one to attempt to buy so didn’t.  That will have to be his choice.  To help him celebrate, I made him his favorite dish…macaroni and cheese and I made the good ol’ fashion kind….no worries about trying to be healthy!  I used white pasta (we always eat whole wheat), butter…I cannot tell you the last time I bought a stick of butter, whole fat cheese and saltine crackers for the top.  Instead of a whole cake, I bought two red velvet cupcakes. I had a taste of one and it was delicious.  I could not have made it any better if I tried.  They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, no?

Our first stop for the day of exploring was the Ferrari dealership around the corner from where we live.  Yes, the Ferrari World Tour of 2013-2014 continues, my friends!  I must say, it was a lovely dealership.  Plenty of room, very clean and tidy, good inventory and very friendly staff….even if we did arrive in with a Honda Fit!!!  We were talking with one of the sales reps and he told us that at the end of the year, they are going to be moving the dealership to a new location…not even a mile from where they are. I was amazed as I thought that showroom was wonderful. 

David had heard of a Sportsman Show on the outskirts of Pretoria, about 40 minutes from us.  An interesting side note:  Pretoria is one of the three capitals of South Africa, which was created in 1910 when South Africa became a country.  The idea was to spread the balance of power between three provinces. Pretoria has the administrative capital and seats the executive branch, Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.  During apartheid, Pretoria was the capital of South Africa and is considered the de facto capital today.  Currently, there is discussion of changing the name back to the indigenous name of Tshwane, which is the African name of the Apies River that runs through Pretoria. This idea, however, is being met with stiff opposition.  

The sportsman show had a variety of booths. There were crafts, handmade knives – many had beautiful wood handles and were a piece of art. There were booths that offered a variety of equipment for hunting, camping, guns and scopes, as well as food and beverages.  I wish that there had been more booths for the various safari and game lodges in the area but there were only a couple.  We did get information on the national parks throughout South Africa that will be helpful when we are trying to plan a weekend get-away.  

Since arriving here, I have been told many times how South African men love their hunts.  Because of this, I was under the impression that gun control was not a real issue.  There was a booth at the show for SAGA (South African Gun Owners Association).  It is the equivalent to our NRA.  They shared with me that there is a movement in South Africa to create and enforce restrictive gun laws in the country.  This movement has been greatly supported financially by the former mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomburg and Jimmy Buffet.  
I will not share my views on gun control here but wanted to share that it appears gun control is a sensitive subject throughout the world.  

As we were leaving, we passed a booth selling mampoer.  We had no idea what it was.  There was a display of bottles and there were a group of people taste testing the drinks. We were not real certain what it was as all about as all of the signs were in Africkaans.  Africkaans is very similar to the Flemish language, which I know nothing of.   Trying to read the signs, I deciphered that it was a product with alcohol and that they would not serve anyone under the age of 18.  After the group left, we inquired about this adult beverage and was told that it was the equivalent to our “moonshine” in the states but rather than be grain based, it was made from fruit.  In Western Cape this drink is commonly referred to as Witblitz which is white lightning in English.  It is mostly distilled on farms and the secret recipes are passed down from generation to generation.  

He had a variety of fruit flavors of the clear moonshine – 52% alcohol, which I didn’t like. Back in college, a friend from Virginia, brought a bottle of “white lightning back to school. This sip of mampoer tasted very similar to that and I didn’t like it back then, either.  I did like the variety of liqueurs that he had on sale. They were much smoother and good. My favorite was the coffee flavored.  We bought two different samples, one of the plain fruit and the other of the liqueurs.  The plain samples will probably end up on our living room shelves where we display souvenirs from our travels.  The flavored liqueurs may be enjoyed on a frosty South African night!  

Sunday we ventured to downtown Johannesburg.  We have been warned not to venture into the downtown area, especially near a tower that can be seen from our suburb.  This tower was once the exclusive place that foreigners lived when they came to Joburg.  Today, it has been taken over by lower class black families and from what we have been told, the courtyard on the inside, center of the building is full of trash that the tenants have thrown there.  

After living here awhile, we have discovered that there is a movement to revive the downtown area.  Newtown is one of these areas that is being revitalized and offers art galleries, restaurants, craft markets, theaters and cafes.  We had heard of a couple of markets in downtown Joburg that people venture to and decided to go to one today, Market on Main.  I found it on the map and programmed it into the GPS and off we went. 

It is a little disconcerting to have to trust a little gizmo to get you safely to your destination. Today, we traveled along streets where there were no whites at all, the buildings were derelict and we drove right past the tower that we were warned never to go near! I just prayed for a “pyramid of protection” and that we wouldn’t have to stop at many stoplights! David kept saying “this isn’t good” and I kept saying, “but we are so close.”  At the final point, we were on back streets, driving under a viaduct…I felt like I was either in the slums of Chicago or the Bronx.  We were discussing to turn around and go home when a man at the intersection motioned for us to a parking spot…which appeared to be perfect.  He was wearing a reflective vest, like most of the parking men wear when helping people to park in the parking lots.  We asked him if the Market on the Main was nearby and it was across the street…we had made it 🙂

This is my “one and only” picture of downtown Joburg.  It does not capture the sights that we saw today.  Houses of cardboard in a parking area, a park full of black people enjoying an afternoon of fresh air.  People dressed in a variety of uniforms…relating to their religious practice, I am assuming but am not certain.  There was a “Kodak moment” around each street corner but sadly, I couldn’t chance trying to get a picture.  My words will have to help you create the vision in your mind.  

We paid Frank, the parking attendant, to watch our car, crossed the street and entered the warehouse that housed the market.  It was busy and interesting.  On the ground level, was the food court with a variety of stalls offering Indian, Mexican, Greek, African food as well as coffee and desserts.  

Everything looked delicious but we were not really hungry.  The brownies, did catch David’s attention.  He has such a sweet tooth and has been doing well to control it.  The weekends he does occasionally have a treat.  I have to say, that these brownies are by far the best in the WORLD!!!  They were very chocolatey and melted in your mouth.  I don’t know what the secret to this recipe was but my goodness, they were the best!!!  

The second floor was arts, crafts, clothing and jewelry.  

My hubby, the engineer, liked the elevator in the building.  I would have missed it, if he hadn’t pointed it out to me. I was so busy looking at the merchandise. 

We made it back home safely.  Will we go again to the Market on the Main?  Probably and we will one Saturday venture to the other market that we heard about today, the Neighborgoods Market.  We were told that this market is much better with live entertainment.  Once back from the states, we will have to check it out. 

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