After spending responsibly in the township, we decided to drink irresponsibly in Melville. Joburg’s reputation is, it could be said, the opposite of Cape Town’s, but Melville gave us a guess as to what the opposite of Joburg might be like. The area is packed with attractive bars, cosy looking restaurants and street vendors selling animals made from wires and beads. I bought a gecko, and probably 2 or 3 hours of the artist’s life, for about £1.50.
Maybe still missing ‘proper’ Africa, we picked a Mozambican styled restaurant called Xai-Xai where a waitress called Jackie laid on us the softest yet hardest sell of a drink I’ve ever been victim to. A Flaming Senorita, it was called. It involves liqueur, oranges and fire. It was very nice. She then plotted our onward route round Melville, telling us where we could find the best margarita, the liveliest dancing and the tastiest Mexican food so we didn’t have to think, which was lucky, what with all the drinks she kept fetching us.
If we had listened to everything we were told about Joburg before we arrived, we wouldn’t have stayed more than 5 minutes. Even the train station got a bad rap. “Take the train to Cape Town from Joburg, not the other way round,” someone warned us, “you don’t want to end your journey in Joburg’s train station,” she shivered. Fortunately, Dad has always advised caution wherever you go, but he described Joburg as just another big city. Yes, be careful and yes, go. After only two full days there, and this our last night before exploring the rest of SA, it was good to know that there’s more to it than guns and violent crime. And the train station is actually quite nice.