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Crocodile River has its limitations for a city girl

PUBLISHED: 13:17 12 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 07 September 2010

This Africa trip is becoming a chore. Three days at the Crocodile River Lodge was OK. The wild landscape, the open spaces, the winding brown river was beginning to affect me. For a city girl there are limits. Even our wilderness guide Peter, with his 'cha

This Africa trip is becoming a chore. Three days at the Crocodile River Lodge was OK. The wild landscape, the open spaces, the winding brown river was beginning to affect me. For a city girl there are limits.Even our wilderness guide Peter, with his 'charisma-bypass', seems to be becoming more interesting. Finally it was time to return to Johannesburg for a family guilt trip.I am starting to panic. What is it about extended families that seem to focus so much on making everyone feel guilty about something or other all the time? Even with my heightened sense of righteousness I am known to succumb to mild twinges when confronted by various cousins complaining of my failure to acknowledge a birthday, a wedding, a birth, a death or whatever.My cousins were eager to entertain us however they were at a disadvantage of not having much to entertain us with. Johannesburg really has nothing but a collection of car parks, electric fences, a cemetery, a museum and an infinite number of shopping malls of course, which is wonderful, but also has its limits, although I haven't discovered what that limit might be yet.We visit Zoo Lake which is a bit like Hampstead Heath but more multi-cultural.For relaxation we visit the West Park Cemetery. It was difficult to get a parking space because the day before, two 28-year-olds had been hijacked and shot in the back of the head for no apparent reason. South Africa is a bit like that. Perverse and tragic simultaneously. My father's first cousin, who died a year ago, had his stone setting so we came, admired the headstone and spoke and joked, with great reverence of course, and left for another guilt trip to the Apartheid Museum a short motorway ride out of Johannesburg.A company that made its money selling South Africans face whitening cream financed the Apartheid Museum. The building is extraordinary. A monumental concrete and stone structure of curves and walkways filled with photographs, video clips, which I had to walk through to find the cafe. The chicken peri-peri pie was not bad and they had skimmed milk lattes but in all honesty I would not recommend going there for the food, which was disappointing.After the Apartheid Museum my father dropped us off at Sandton City shopping mall, apparently the nuclear seminal breeding ground for Kugels in the southern hemisphere. A 'kugel' is a potato cake in German but more accurately a type of Jewish Princess that lives in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. They are similar to us in north London only squeaky. They all seem to look the same: blow-dried bouffant honey nut-brown hair and shimmering with ornaments.My grandmother is getting frail. She turned 95 yesterday and we celebrated with a big tea party in her Golden Acres Jewish Retirement Village. My siblings and I had been practicing a song called A Yiddisha Mama to sing to everyone on the day. The lyrics, once translated, turned out to be about the death of a Yiddish Mother. Rather tragic. As was our performance.My mother played flute, my brother played guitar and I mumbled incomprehensibly into the microphone. Thankfully everyone in the room was suffering from advanced dementia. Ten minutes later our pathetic performance was entirely erased.When I spoke to my grandmother a few days later she couldn't even remember that I had been to visit. Unfortunately it was all captured on video.

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