Modern African Nation: this is what Barack Obama envisions for America.

cj  Lifted from RealJock.com (Note:  I attempted to format this but remember we are delaing with a South African.)

Travel tips: I recommend you buy your own car to get around. The public transport system is unreliable. There are two types of taxis. The ones the tourists use (expensive, but safer) and the mini-bus taxis which go just about everywhere on fixed routes, but are also very, very unsafe.

Never, ever hitch-hike in South Africa – just trust me on this one. If you are lucky enough to have a bus service to take you to work, consider yourself fortunate.

Accommodation: Try to live as close to your workplace as possible – you will save a lot of money on fuel or transport. And choose your neighbourhood very carefully – choose a safe one. Do not stay in the cities – it is not safe. Rather try to get a place in the suburbs. Most housing complexes are walled off and have 24 hour security. If an area looks unsafe, it is unsafe.

Lifestyle – People are very friendly and are used to diversity in Johannesburg. There are people from all over the world living here. You can live openly as a LGBTI person and there are many gay clubs, bars, baths in Johannesburg, Centurion and Pretoria. Our constitution recognises gay marriage, equal rights no matter what your sexual orientation is. You can live a very comfortable life here if you have a decent job. Most South African gay men are very friendly and will initiate conversation with strangers just about anywhere. Don’t be surprised if a total stranger  starts a conversation with you out of the blue in a lift or in the queue at the supermarket. Just go with the flow – they are just being friendly.

Stay safe tips:

1. Stay away from dangerous, run-down areas. If you feel uneasy in any place, get out as quickly as you can.

2. Lock your vehicle and close your windows when you drive. Make sure your vehicle has airconditioning.

3. Carry your mobile phone with you at all times and phone for help if your car breaks down or if you need help.

4. Keep valuable items (wallets, mobile phones, cameras, jewellery…) out of sight.

5. Never offer a bribe to any government official – they will come back for more.

6. Always, always carry condoms with you and always, always practice safer sex. Our HIV+ rate is one of the highest in the world.

7. Have one/two alcoholic  drinks when you go out on weekends and then wait 2-3 hours before you drive.

There are roadblocks all over Johannesburg, especially on Fridays and Saturday nights. If you are over the limit you will be arrested and will only be bailed out on Monday morning. Our holding cells are not the safest places to spend the weekend.

Most people of european origin get together at their own clubs. I know there are dozens of Portuguese, greek and Italian clubs. I am sure you can find a French club or organization. It is important to find out where your community of origin hangs out. They will be able to offer support and networking opportunities which may come in handy if you get yourself into a difficult situation.

Tipping: Restaurants – 10-15%. Always tip the guys that guard your vehicle wherever you park. 2 to 5 rands is enough.

At the petrol station: If they check your oil, water and tire pressure, give them about R10.00. They will be very grateful and will rush to help you when you go back.

My last piece of advice: When dealing with government officials, there will be a lot of bureaucracy. There will be looooooooong queues. The forms you fill in may be lost a few times before you get results. Sometimes your requests for information will be met with an expressionless, blank look of disinterest. Don’t give up. They may send you from pillar to post and back again. Just be friendly and don’t raise your voice at them. It will only make matters worse and if you make them angry, they will tend to lose your paperwork again.  (Damn, sounds like Fulton County Georgia or Miami/Dade)

Good luck!   I promise you will love Johannesburg. Just use your common sense to keep safe and your patience with the bureaucracy. Things are much better now than ten years ago, and they are improving.

Also, if you get homesick for something a bit more french, you could also hop over to Reunion Island for a week of rest and relaxation.

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