20-Jun-2009 -- A suburban hunt with unexpected obstacles
This hunt was the byproduct of an overnight stopover at Johannesburg waiting for a flight to Zambia. Carmine was co-opted to spend part of the afternoon to hunt for the point – 13 km away from our hotel and promised to be a piece of cake, knowing it is located in a suburban district.
As usual, like most confluence hunts, something unexpected would happen is the rule, not the exception. We actually had a hard time reaching the point.
We got a van through the hotel with Stanley as the driver. Stanley knew exactly where the neighborhood called Dainferm Ridge is, and told us that it is a newly developed area. Also, he quickly grasped the essence of the hunt – go to the ground zero defined by GPS. This hunt is a piece of cake.
In less than 30 minutes, we reached within 1.5 km from our objective, and it was evident that the entire area are several large gated communities. We headed for a large compound which seemed to be the most likely one where the confluence point would be located. At the entrance, the security guard was adamant that we can not enter unless we are the guest of someone living there. The security clearly is at the same level of the American Embassy. Given Johannesburg is famous for crime, it all started to make sense. Dejectedly, Stanley turned the car around.
To Stanley's credit, he is not a man who took “No” for answer. Knowing there is a Golf Club inside the compound; he drove to another gate and told them we suppose to go to the club for a meeting. The guard asked “is it with Mr. Chen?” We said, of course, and got in.
As it turned out, after all the effort to talk our way in, this was the wrong compound. We reached within 0.7 km, but clearly the confluence point was at an adjacent compound.
We drove a big circle to the gate of a smaller gated compound – 180 meters left to go! Again, the guard there asked who we planned to visit. Stanley resorted to say that we are interested in finding housing in this area - can we look around? No dice. Finally, we said, we are from America, we just wish to take a few pictures and will not take more than 10 minutes. The guard decided that we are not the criminal sort, and lifted the bar up. What a close call!
This confluence point is located near the end of a dead-ended short street. The all-zeros point is located inside the perimeter of a large house and we got to within 12 meters from it. As we were taking a few pictures to complete the required task, a lady came out of the house next door with this very suspicious look and asked what were we up to. A quick explanation that her house is located on 26 South and 28 East, and we are here to take a few photos per Degree Conference Project finally put her to ease, and she asked for the URHL of the Degree Confluence Project.
Given the high level of security conciseness, it would not be prudent to knock on the door of the house to ask permission to the true zeros. We concluded the hunt after a little over 2 hours – twice the time anticipated. On the way back, we had fun by the roadside with a large collection of metal sculptures made by refugees from Zimbabwe.
With this little adventure, now Carmine has a “point”, and is no longer “pointless”.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge:
4 – Getting there was not hard, but the high security measures of the gated compound almost foiled our effort (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
2 – Brand new suburban villa type housing, could be anywhere (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
3 – A deep appreciation that living in Johannesburg is like living under siege, not very nice (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)