On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
The Drunkard Mouse of Joburg
Thu was keen to visit Kimberly, South Africa, site of the most famous diamond mine in the world. So we arranged to take a vacation in South Africa, with a trip to Kimberly as part of the agenda. Daughter Lucy came along, on vacation from school during the Christmas break from the International School of Kenya in Nairobi. We all had a plan or two, the only way to make sure that our vacation plans were not dashed if a single Plan A went awry.
The Footloose Forester planned to play golf, so he brought along his clubs. Thu wanted to go down into a gold mine, in addition to visiting diamond mines and see features connected to the diamond industry.
As it turned out, the person who met us at the airport had been, for a number of years, the elevator operator at the deepest gold mine in Johannesburg. Small world, huh? George Eastmond was recommended to us by our next-door neighbor in Nairobi. The recommendation was in response to our desire to stay in an out-of-the-way place, and not in a city hotel. George and his wife ran a small bed and breakfast in their retirement years and had just the thing we were looking for. So, a few faxes and telephone calls later, and George arranged to pick us up at Jan Smits Airport in Johannesburg—in his vintage Mercedes.
George was a good host and even dropped the Footloose Forester off at a golf course in Joburg the following morning. Then he arranged a golf match with his young nephew at a very nice course the next day. George drove us to Kimberly and back a few days later. It was at least two hours away. Along the way he taught us a lot about gold mining; and the next day even took us 800 feet down in his elevator in the now abandoned gold mine in the heart of Joburg. The site is now a tourist attraction, complete with a museum, and it was great fun.
Abandoned Kimberly Diamond Mine
Nearby was the DeBeers operation, and Thu went nuts with seeing diamonds on display everywhere. Lucy was young at the time and only got excited when it came to going on the rides.
We all had fun on the drive to Bophuthatswana, the tribal territory now annexed to South Africa, but at the time was an independent country. Their big draw was a huge, modern casino where thousands flocked daily to gamble. The Footloose Forester had his clubs in the trunk and played on the Gary Player designed course--twice.
Drunkard mouse of Joburg?
One of the most pleasant and recurring memories revolved around a little mouse that showed up each evening at our bed-and-breakfast outdoor dinner table. After dinner each day, George would take a small shot glass and partially fill it with scotch and set it next to the table leg. Soon, a little mouse would emerge and drink the scotch, and when he was finished lapping up the booze, he would either fall over on his back with his legs straight up in the air; or would wobble away. He did this every day; such was his taste for scotch. George said that the mouse had been doing this for many months, so knew that we would not be disappointed when the drunkard mouse of Joburg showed up for his evening nip.