SA Journey

The whole thing started badly, I have had a pain in my right side for two weeks. I had some tests done but nothing important showed up so I thought I was pretty right. I was due to fly out Wednesday 30th April but I woke up on Monday morning sick as a dog. I was vomiting and sweating and felt like death warmed up. I took myself off to the doctor who immediately said it was probably appendicitis. I told him that I thought I had my appendix out in 95 when they took a whole bunch of cysts out. He sent me home whilst he tried to find out, he gave me some anti nausea pills and after a couple of hours they worked. Unfortunately the hospital that I had the operation done in 95 moved about 3 weeks later, nobody can find the records of my op, I have the scars they don’t have the records.

Dr decided that even though I was feeling better, the souce of the pain needed to be checked so he sent me for a full body CT scan the next day. Luckily for me it did not show anything serious, and it seems I have no appendix. I have to go for another full body CT scan with contrast on 8th April to try and find out what is causing the pain but for that I need to go into hospital as I have bad reactions to contrast.

Okay, nothing serious is good, plans needed a little changing it meant I could not go past Durban but what the heck I was going to South Africa.

Wednesday arrives, my bags are packed (truth is they have been packed for two weeks). Friends arrived from the country to stay and look after Flexi, we took gran to the respite centre and then it was off to the airport.

I had paid through the nose for business class tickets,I have a bad back which affects my leg and I also get a lot of cramp in the kidney area if I sit in the cinema too long. Since the flight was going to be 18 hours I thought I would be a lot better off with comfort. When I checked in the girl told me she was very sorry but business class had been overbooked and that I would be in economy class, she also gave me some paper work to send back to the airline as they would be refunding me some money. Big deal, I booked in October for heavens sake, I was annoyed that I was the one being shunted to economy. I saw when I got on the plane why it was me, there was a group of politicians on the plane. Must look after the servants of the people first.

When I got my seat I was more annoyed, I was so far back in the plane that if they had put me any further back they would have had to strap me to the tail.

The flight was long, uncomfortable and boring and the smell of the food made my stomach do 360 degree turns. But at last we were in Johannesburg and that was what it was all about.

We went through customs and because I had medical papers and heaps of meds in my bag they went through my stuff with a fine tooth comb. I shouldn’t tell you this because I am sure it will come back to haunt me one day (i am thinking Sherry and Eydie here) but they even took my knickers out and shook them to see if there was anything hidden in there. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have your bonds cottontails waived around in the middle of an international airport.

I was here last year for the World Cup, you could feel the excitement in the air then, the country seemed to be coming of age.

Well today there was a different excitement in the air, Neil Diamond is coming to town.

I went for a walk early this morning to get a little fresh air, the flight over left me with an aching back and sore legs so I thought a good walk would make them feel better. I had my Neil Diamond hoodie that I bought in Sydney on Saturday on because I feel the cold terribly. Well the locals thought I was with the tour, dozens of people asked me where is he, is he here yet, what is he like. I spent ages explaining that I had been in to the show in Sydney and bought the hoodie there. Then they all wanted to know how the show was and what songs he played. It was really full on.

There are signs up everywhere around the stadium, roads are closed on the night and some roads you can only drive through if you display your ticket.

I have been to Neil concerts in New Zealand and every state in Australia over the years and I have never seen anything like this.

I went on a tour to a wildlife park and every person on the bus was going to the show. They had come from everywhere. Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Brasil and Russia. The Russian couple told me they had waited all their lives to be able to see Neil in concert I just know they are going to really enjoy it.

I reckon Neil and the band are going to be pretty overwhelmed on Saturday night when they look out and see this crowd. It is going to be one hell of a night.

I went to the Mandella museum, now that is one heck of a place. How one man can go through all that he went through and come out the other end to become President of his country without becoming bitter and twisted is a miracle. The word HERO is thrown around a little too much these days like in sports and stuff but if you are looking for a real hero you need look no further than Mandella.

Time to go to the show, we have been advised that we should leave extra early to get out to the stadium. Since I am always frightened of being late I got the first bus out. Just as well too, there was so much traffic we crawled out there, you could have walked faster than the bus was moving. It should have took 20 minutes but it was 1 hour 45 minutes.

I was talking to a couple who had come in to town from down south, they had traveled all day to get to the show and it had cost them 250 rand (that’s about $36) each for seats in the back. it was all they could afford and they were just so excited about going, they had never been to a concert in their lives.

Finally we got to the stadium, last year at the soccer we were in the private boxes so I didn’t really get the feel of the crowed as such. Here I was in the front row there was a sea of people behind me, around me, above me it was freaky. When Neil came out you should have heard the roar it was so loud I thought I would need to get my hearing checked. I looked at Neil and it was obvious he was a little overwhelmed too, he seemed to have a smirk on his face and I thought yeah I know what your thing “THIS IS BLOODY HUGE”. After every song the cheering and clapping got louder and more and more people got up and danced. Sweet Caroline and Brother Loves Traveling Salvation show brought the house down. Nobody complained about people blocking their view because everyone was on their feet for most of the show. There were quite a few technical problems but as usual Neil and the band being the professionals that they are worked their way through it and the crowd barely noticed or cared. It was a little disappointing that he did not do I am Isaid at the end but the technical problems just got too much.

Now most of you know I have been waiting 36 years to see Neil in an outdoor show. Was it worth coming all the way to SA for the experience HELL YEAH it was. I don’t give a stuff what that one of the reports said there was 50,000 people there. There were 97,000 tickets sold and I could not see an empty seat in the house.

On the way home I was one of the last out of the stadium because I was up the front and couldn’t move, there was a sea of people trying to get out. I ended up on one of the last buses out a real crappy old thing looked like it was left over from the 60’s and had seen a few riots.

The driver thought he was on a racetrack, I think he got his license out of a weetbix packet, he made good use of the road both sides of it. Someone started singing Sweet Caroline and everyone joined in, then the swaying started it was scary and fun at the same time.

Back at the hotel I could not sleep, I was too hyped up so I turned on the TV, the late news was full of reports about the crowd, the traffic and the concert.

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