We went out to dinner in the Sandton shopping area and experienced S. fare such as boerewors (sausages) and potjiekos (ox tail stew) and - as it seems is the S. On Saturday, thanks to our host and wonderful friend Sharon, we were off to Soweto in the back of the "bakkie" ("bucky," or pickup truck) filled with blankets and pillows to keep comfortable and try to keep warm.

Our first stop was to pick up Molife (whose friend it was who owned the shebeen) and then off to the shopping center in Soweto to meet two of Sharon's employees who lived in the township and were going to take us around.

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He had studied up the route and was ready to go when we found out that Sharon (whose house we were staying in) had asked a friend, Sean, to come and pick us up and take us to our meeting and around to meet some other friends.

Sean was right out of Absolutely Fabulous - he was Patsy reincarnated in Joburg.

In the case of Wandie's, it's a tourist and local destination for food, entertainment, and drinks. It was still early (around 9) and Molife went in to check what was happening.

M Squared is a home garage, outfitted with chairs, tables, a bar, and a bigscreen TV. There were about 10 patrons and we all walked in and ordered a beer.

He looked at me, a great big smile on his face, and basically said, now things have changed, we too can be successful. Simphiwe and Linda take us for a walk up Vilakazi Street in Soweto, past the current home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (for the record, one of my most admired people, and a true icon for LGBT equality in the world) and then farther up the hill to the home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela.

This was the home they lived in, which was gasoline bombed twice (seems by the government at the time), the house they spent years in under house arrest, and yes, where Nelson Mandela lived when he was arrested in 1962 by authorities, helped by the CIA, when George Bush was its chief.

We had heard about their "home," and when we arrived, it was everything everyone had said - and more.

It was grand, full of antique furniture and incredible art. We talked about the "old" days when Johann worked for SABC (South African Broadcasting Corp) and how the president's wife might call up a producer to force the company to include their daughter in a show.

Every room a showcase of "opulent living." Johann collects cars and seems to have quite a collection. We talked about their choice in cars - if you don't want to get carjacked in Joburg, don't drive a BWM or Mercedes.

Hopefully we'll get the chance to enjoy it while we are here. It gets down to freezing at night and usually up to around 15 degrees C (62 degrees F) during the day. We sat next to the portable space heater, with our jackets on. Their cars were a new Peugeot hardtop/convertible and a very fine new Citroen Saloon, both very nice and both very not available in America.

by Barry Thorsness - SGN African Correspondent The week started off for us, much like usual: We were off to meet some people and no idea where we are going or where we were going to end up.