Shosholoza Meyl Rail service - A 9 hour South African adventure
When you google "Shosholoza Meyl", this is the first thing that comes up: "Shosholoza Meyl promises that each of our passengers will be treated to 'A Pleasant Experience' ...throughout their journey by train until they disembark at their end destination."
Needless to say - don't believe everything you read.
Picture this: England have just been hammered by Germany 4-1, me and the guys are drinking and dancing our sorrows away in a local bar as our train is not until 4am and the match finished at 6pm.
We leave the bar to catch a cab to the station and when we get on the train its FREEZING COLD and so packed that people are sleeping on the floor in the aisles and between seats. Failing to find a seat, me and my friends cram ourselves on the floor in the space between carriages (by the toilets) like dogs. But after about 20 minutes we're asked to move on by staff. We spend about an hour cursing the day, with sarcasm providing some uncontrollable bouts of laughter which slowly turns into hysterics (I didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the situation so I ended up laughing so hard that I did both). Then we spend another hour walking up and down the train looking for somewhere else to sleep. Eventually three out of the four of us manage to find seats and I end up standing. Soon after morning breaks something very strange (to us Londoners) happens - a blind man walks into our carriage and breaks into song. Like something out of a movie, everybody on the carriage starts singing along beautifully in harmony! It was quite odd, but given the night we were having, it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise.
I recorded a couple of short video clips (visual is pretty weak but the audio is good) because I knew some people would find it hard to picture the scene otherwise.
Imagine this on the London Underground:
By the way, this went on for four hours and soon after it stopped, as the train passed through Soweto, there was an almighty SMASHING sound from my window and shards of glass showered me and the woman sitting next to me. A few people screamed and everyone on the carriage ducked down thinking it might be gun fire, but fortunately it was just some stone-throwing troublesome youths.
For a second though and only for a second, I felt I was in genuine danger for the first time since getting here.
South Africa's Shosholoza Meyl Rail service - what a strange experience.
- Mr Devo