Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Postcard from Johannesburg

I followed my heart to Johannesburg; my choice a person, not a city. I arrived clutching a handful of mental snapshots: high-voltage fences, late-night carjackings, burning tyres, tin shacks, chaos, fear. Hell on Earth. Yes, these pictures are true, but so far from the truth.

Life here is a babel of people from across Africa and beyond. It is copper-red African sunrises, blue-sky winter days, cicada-humming nights. It is Greek koulourakia, Italian shirts, Kenyan muumuus. It is sun-bright strawberries from a Soweto garden; a love letter painted across a downtown rooftop; a minibus full of strangers poring over my map, helping me understand. It is the taste of savannah dust, the astringent desert smell of aloes after the rain. It is hope, and unexpected kindnesses, and the energy of a million aspirations. Is it any wonder I lost my heart all over again?

First published in the Irish Times as part of the Postcards from Abroad competition.

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