Yesterday my wife Nomhle and I hosted three friends from Chicago who were in Johannesburg for the first time. We only had half a day as they had arrived that morning and were continuing to Kruger National Park this morning so are probably stalking lions and rhinos right now. We met up at Park Station, the Gautrain side, and spent the afternoon telling tales over a fabulous lunch on Vlakhazi Street in Orlando West, up the road from Nelson Mandela’s house which we visited later.
After leaving Nelson Mandela’s house we drove into the city to catch the sunset from the Roof Of Africa on the fiftieth floor of the Carlton Centre, Africa’s tallest building since it opened in 1973. On our way we noticed a dust storm building up but din’t think too much of it.
We arrived at Carlton Centre with a little help, well actually solely because of the GPS, in good time and quickly found our way to the express elevator. The elevator ride is only R15, less than $1,50, per person and in less than a minute we walked out onto the viewing deck to be greeted by the setting sun.
Johannesburg is a highly developed city which is evident from just about any angle and the views from up here are simply breathtaking. The buildup of dust was deceptively rapid one moment we were looking across the city and the next we could hear the dust specks scratching against the glass panels carried on a shrieking wind.
We made our way down to the ground to find a strange new world. When we stepped out of the elevator into the ground level mall it was unusually dark for 18:30 and the dust was everywhere. Carol, one of our friends, happened to have a face-mask and put it on. I went out to get the car to find dust swirling through the air, visibility was poor.
We drove out of the city headed to Rosebank in a surreal atmosphere. I have never been in a dusstorm and for hours after I was still trying to comprehend what we had been through. Impressive as it was I hope i never have to go through that again but with all we hear about climate change, this may happen again sooner than we think.