Whenever I travel someone says to me
"Be careful" or
"Watch out for strangers" or
"That is a dangerous place, don't take any unnecessary risks".
And I am pretty careful. But some times things go differently than planned.
For example upon arrival in Johannesburg Tuesday we found ourselves chatting with a man in our hotel lobby. He gave us some local options for restaurants and tourist sites, and even offered to drop us at a nearby restaurant. As we disembarked from his car I joked to my colleague
"One thing I would never do is get in a car with a stranger in a strange land".
Well except for this time. And then again Thursday night when the same stranger showed us all over the city of Johannesburg, driving more quickly past the more dangerous spots. He explained that he moved his family from Johannesburg ten years ago due to multiple incidents of friends being shot, mugged, car-jacked, gun to the head, etc. He also shared with us a few brushes he has had with the law, including spending the night in jail Monday for a speeding violation. Apparently one usually only needs to offer the appropriate amount of money to avoid this, but in this case nothing worked.
Okay so we are in his car, cruising down the highway at 80 or 90 miles an hour hearing that he recently was arrested for speeding. All good fodder for an interesting evening.
We proceeded to Moyo's Restaurant at Melrose Square, a happening little touristy spot serving pretty authentic African food. Big pots of meat dishes that had been cooking all day, ox-tail, chicken tajine, seafood curry, ostrich - all delicious.We consumed copious quantities of wine, Jamesons, shots of tequila chased with pineapple and tobasco, etc. along with this wonderful food. It was cold, so we moved inside to the cigar lounge, where you are no longer allowed to smoke cigars. More tequila, wine, etc. Lots of stories all around and lots of laughter.
No worries: we all arrived safely home before midnight.
Summary: Stranger 1, Danger 0.