We went to Gold Reef City on Saturday. It’s a theme park just south of the CBD (Central Business District) of Johannesburg. It’s made up like an old gold diggers town and reminded me of the theme park in Kimberley which we visited two years ago. In Kimberley, the theme park is right next to The Big Hole and this theme park also has a big hole. But here, you pay 90 Rand for entrance to the park, and 60 Rand extra to go down the mining shaft. A bit expensive, but at the end of the day, I considered the price worth it (the 90 Rand that is, we didn’t go down the mine shaft). The place has many rides, like a carnival, but also has some museums and with the great weather we had is a great place to hang around.
The place I enjoyed most was the small collection of farm animals (I’m a simple man, or so it seems). Small horses and a mule were interested in us and the taste of our clothes, looking at us as if they were in love. Lama’s were arrogantly munching away at a bale of hay, just out of our reach. Extremely fat pigs were sleeping in a corner, all huddled up against each other. Goats were walking around, jumping out of their cages to get to the few green shrubs and trees on the walking paths for visitors. Emus, rather ugly versions of ostriches, looked at us questioningly and with their heads at an angle, seemingly asking us why we didn’t have any food, until we did, some leaves, when they ate them from our hands. A pig was trying to chew up my shoe and Betsy’s trousers.
For some strange reason, it was extremely quiet in the park today. We practically didn’t have to wait at all for any of the rides we went on. In several places, live bands were playing to non-existing crowds.

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In the evening, the whole group, we were seven in total, went for dinner at Cool Runnings, a chain of Jamaican-style (whatever that really means) restaurants. Some had curries, I had a salad (that’s another thing, this was the second time that a salad I ordered in a restaurant was just a bunch of chopped up raw vegetables), others had a burger. All reasonable, if too expensive.
After Jasper finished, his burger being too black to begin with, he said something that took a few seconds to register with all of us: “There’s a cockroach on my plate”. And there was. A cockroach was munching away on one of the pieces of unions he hadn’t finished.
I don’t think we’ll be visiting any Cool Running branch any more.

I’ve been very emotional this week. My friend Lev passed away on the previous Friday. It was in the cards, I suppose, but I was absolutely convinced it wouldn’t happen. I was shattered, trashed and still feel very bad.
I feel bad and I feel angry. Angry because of the good life that’s lost and I also feel lost, at a loss. Because I had unfinished business in this friendship. I was going to visit Lev in the US, there was still too much I wanted to talk about. I’ve recently made the website, which is about Brussels, the city where Lev grew up. I wanted to be sure the website was up and running perfectly before telling him about it. I was too late.
Then there’s that Lev believed and hoped there is no afterlife. It pains me so much to have to accept that Lev died, with the conviction there is never going to be ‘a next time’.
Lev was buried yesterday, in New Mexico. To show that there’s more between heaven and earth, I had a bit of a breakdown at the exact time (unbeknownst to me at the time) he was buried.

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On Sunday, we took two of Betsy’s colleagues to Rosebank mall, where there’s a flee market every Sunday. Very decent, with lots of interesting artists selling work (not just typical African stuff, but also paintings and photography), fantastic snack food, ranging from eastern European pastries to fruit sprinkled with chilli and stalls selling stuff you find on every flee market all over the world.
Also, the gaming section of the mall had DDR Max2. With Max300, a ten-footer. I cleared it, with a D, but still, for the very first time ever!