We’d just landed in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we’d be staying for a week as part of my MBA program. As we stood purchasing tickets for the Gautrain, we noticed an older couple fiddling with the kiosk next to ours. They kindly asked if we wouldn’t mind helping them figure out the credit card reader and buy their tickets, which we did, and we were all on our way.
We ended up heading to the same stop, and chatted for the duration of the ride. After a few minutes of conversation, it came out that the delightful gentleman of the couple had served as the United States Ambassador to South Africa under President Clinton, during the Presidential term of Nelson Mandela. It was fascinating hearing his colorful stories, while his wife chimed in with details of their travels and the wonderful people they’d met. And they, in turn, asked all about business school with a baby and cooed over our little four-month-old.
As we all prepared to disembark the train, we mentioned that we’d be heading to Cape Town in a little over a week, and asked if they had any tips. They told us that they, too, would be in Cape Town at that time and asked us to look them up so we could meet for tea.
So we did. We had a lovely time having high tea and hearing more about his work with Mandela and gaining a better understanding of apartheid. They were warm and welcoming and held our baby and taught us more than we could learn from all the tourist sites we visited combined. All thanks to a lovely couple who made time for some stranger Americans with a little baby.