Cradle of Humankind-June 16, 2010

Today, we ventured to the Cradle of Humankind which appears to be a large area north of Johannesburg about and hour and a half away. This area is significant because of all the fossils that have been found in the area. Species of human and pre-human have been found in this area. A museum/information centre was built a few years ago and all the travel tips we read stated to go to the Cradle. So we hired George to take us out there. Now we knew from yesterday, that George’s Honda had a broken window so we weren’t sure how today would go. He couldn’t get a new window so he had put cardboard over the window. When George arrived at the cottage around 9:20am, he informed us he had to bring his two boys with him and asked if we could follow him in our rental car. He told us he wouldn’t charge us today so that was good! His wife had to stay out-of-town on business unexpectedly so therefore he had to bring his son’s with him. Now, his boys are 10 (Oliver (Ollie)) and 16 (John) respectively. We later found out that according to George, leaving the boys at home alone is too dangerous and they could be harmed by burglars. Can you imagine living in a world where a 16-year-old can’t stay at home without parental supervision due to the fear of crime?  Once we left the cottage, George wanted us to see Nelson Mandela Square which is in Sandton. It’s where the central business district is in Jozi now. There is a statue in the square of Mandela so we took a few pictures and wandered around the mall at the square for a few minutes. Once we had finished there, we started our drive out to Maropeng. The five of us bought our combined tickets to the museum/information centre and the Sterkfontein Caves. The museum was geared toward children and was a very informational look into the creation of human existence and the evolution of species. While, there we viewed some actual fossils discovered in the Cradle and even watched a video of “60 Minutes” from earlier this year that details the fossils recently found by the American Lee Berger. For reference, check here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_of_Humankind

After the museum, we grabbed lunch at the café and drove about 5 minutes to the Sterkfontein Caves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterkfontein). Now after waiting in the shade (which was really cold) for about 45 minutes, we finally got into a small room that re-hashed the Maropeng info. A group of Japanese seemed to cut in the line and some S. African’s weren’t too happy about it. I thought we might get a little entertainment via a little fight while we waited in the line but the tour guides explained?!?! we all would get into the caves in a few minutes and not to worry. We finally walked about 100-200 yards up a small hill to the entrance. Now if the museum was a little disappointing, the caves were quite impressive. There was an underground lake, stalagmites, stalactites, and pure limestone cave goodness!  They are still excavating the “Little Foot” fossil from 1997, but they have a big gate and barbed wire keeping visitors from seeing the discovery. We even had to crawl through one portion of the cave to get to the next room! We snapped a good bit of photos and I tried to take a video or two so hopefully they came out alright. Eventually our tour guide led us back out of the cave and it was over. After driving back to the cottage, we decided to try an Italian/pizza joint “Sugo” around the corner. It was a festive atmosphere due to the 15-20 people there to watch the South Africa/Uruguay game. The home supporters were out in full force all dressed in the yellow home Bafana Bafana jersey and getting rowdy. Lots of wine and tequila shots were being consumed by this group. Unfortunately, they didn’t have too much to cheer about after losing 3-0. Another day in the books, it’s off to bed. Tomorrow, our 3rd match of the tournament as we head back to Soccer City!

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