The overalls make another appearance.

After the chic beauty of Cape Town and the natural splendor of the rest of the country, Johannesburg was harder to get into. It's very much a city city.

Our group had hooked up with a mega-church, which provided us with accommodations in the homes of some of its members. Me and three other girls stayed with a wonderful family - a mom and her three kids, two of whom were our age. Tragically, their father had been killed a year earlier in a carjacking, which brought home the sobering reality of the dangers of this otherwise gorgeous country.

My favorite part of the time we spent in Jo'burg was visiting and performing in Soweto. At the time, tourism to the massive township was in its infancy. One woman we met told us, "Most people just drive through and stare from the bus windows. You're the first group that's gotten off!" While I can't believe that was true, tours around Soweto have become much more common, and more ethical than driving through on a bus, in the past 15 years.


I've heard people say South Africa - and Johannesburg in particular - has changed since our visit. Some say for better, some say for worse. One constant in our time driving around Jo'burg was what we called "the Coke Can" - its real name being Ponte City Apartments. The enormous advertising board around the top has changed a few times since the late '90s, as has the story of the building itself. There are several fascinating articles on the rise, fall, and reemergence of the building's fortunes.

All in all, South Africa is an amazing country, full of variety and contradictions. While I've had the good fortune to go on other "Trip(s) of a Lifetime" since, this one was the first, and will always remain special for that reason.


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