Living without transport in Joburg suburbia

Just the title alone is not for the faint of heart.

After a bit if a disaster car wise, due to a couple of bad decisions on my part, so have only myself to blame, I find myself transportless. Now if I was living abroad, this would not even be a topic for discussion, but in Johannesburg this poses a slight problem, just by the sheer distances one needs to travel to get around the and lack of any formal public transport in place.

But as they say here in my beautiful country, ” ‘n boer maak ‘n plan”!

I treated myself to the luxury of a hire vehicle for 2 weeks, but just saw my bank balance being slowly siphoned off, it is an expensive luxury, so returned same a week ago and have had an interesting week, with 4 possible options.

Option 1 – walk – which I have done, very grateful for there being convenience stores within one kilometer radius of my home. So handbag over the shoulder, with cell phone and wallet securely zipped in the bag (remember this is the evil crime ridden South Africa that I live in), empty backpack on my back and off I go.  What a liberating experience.  I do think the sight of this white haired”gogo” striding purposefully up the road was a bit of an anomaly, where everyone drives around with darkened windows and car door securely lock without engaging with anyone who may approach their car to wash their windows, or sell them the latest cell phone gadget at the robots. Score 10/10 it was beautiful to be out in the fresh air, didn’t cost me anything and I spent less as really didn’t feel like being too laden down for the walk back home.

Option 2 – use the local minibus taxis – here it is a bit more daunting, but once you get the courage to ask the local population which handsignals to use, it is really quite easy.  No formal pick up spots.  You just stand anywhere on the side of the road, see the minibus travelling in your direction, held up the requisite finger symbol for your destination and “bob’s your uncle”.  Minibus stops, you climb in (again as the white gogo) you get given the front seat, which is not always the best as you then have first hand experience of the ability of the driver to mount the curb to bypass traffic.  So you just close your eyes and pray. Payment is easy – if you are sitting in the back you hand you money forward to the other passengers, who pass it forward to the driver, who then casually hands your change back. To disembark, you call out short left/right and taxi stops immediately, disregarding all traffic in the vicinity. Score  10/10 experience daily life of your every day South Africa.

Option 3 – Uber – ahhhhhhhh Uber – what an easy way to get around. Costs a tad more than the local minibus. But I get collected at my doorstep within 5 minutes of placing a booking and dropped at my destination and the conversations I have had with my drivers are priceless.  Had to be at work at 5.30 this morning and was worried about finding a driver up so early – no problem at all. Score again 10/10

Then I come to Option 4 – which after the above is actually not an option – stay at home!

So getting around Johannesburg is possible without your own car.  I now have no headaches of car licences, mechanics, saving on car insurance and getting to see Johannesburg in a different light, not via locked doors and rolled up windows of my own car, without engaging in the world around me.  Maybe not as convenient – but doable and an adventure at the same time.



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