A fellow Melville blogger, Chuck V., recently referred to me as “the Melville American”. I was flattered; it’s fun to think of myself as THE Melville American. (Although I suspect all the other Melville Americans — and there are many others — might object.)
Photo by Jon.
Chuck’s post got me thinking about one of the things I find strangest about being an expat, especially an expat from America. When you’re an American living in a foreign country, your nationality is the first thing people notice about you. Continue Reading
Yesterday I attended the Founders Day ceremony at St. Stithians College, a Joburg prep school. I was invited by a wonderful lady named Debbie, whose children go to St. Stithians. Before yesterday morning I only knew Debbie through her 2Summers comments, and on Facebook. Now Debbie is a friend. This is why I love blogging.
Jon graduated (or “matriculated”, as they say here) from St. Stithians in 1984. He and I drove past the school many times but never visited together. Jon wasn’t the type of person to be nostalgic for his school days — adolescence was a difficult time for him. But I do know that he had some good times at St. Stithians and the years he spent there are part of who he was. I’m grateful to have had the chance to visit the school on such a special day. Continue Reading
Last night I found myself in the back of a taxi — a legit South African minibus, minus the filth and missing floor panels. The taxi driver’s name was Shadrack. I nodded to the rap tunes blasting from the sound system beneath my feet as we hurtled out of Joburg and toward the Cradle of Humankind.
It was dark. I couldn’t make out the faces of the seven other taxi passengers, which didn’t really matter because I’d never met any of them before (except one, who I’d met once several months ago). I didn’t even know anyone’s name yet. It was difficult to talk above the sound of the stereo.
I wasn’t worried though. We would get to know each other soon enough. Shadrack’s taxi was transporting us on a journey back in time. Continue Reading
Jozi dogs have been finding their way in front of my camera lens lately.
Last weekend, in addition to photographing a friend’s dogs on the Melville Koppies, I also met a very special guard dog at a café in Northcliff.
Amiga, guard dog at the Indulgence Café.
I hate using clichés. But the Indulgence Café epitomizes the term “hidden gem”. It’s a quirky establishment in one of a long row of nondescript strip malls along Beyers Naude. (It’s actually one strip mall over from the famous Thunder Gun!) Continue Reading
I didn’t give much thought to internet access when I lived in the United States. American broadband internet is cheap and easy to get. Just about every home has it. And as far as I know, internet in the United States is always unlimited.
I had never heard of a “data cap” before moving to South Africa. I didn’t think of internet use as “data”, and didn’t realize it could be “capped”. But in South Africa, most internet plans come with a data cap. You pay for a certain number of gigs (gigabytes) of data per month, and when those gigs run out, you pay more. The more YouTube videos you watch, the more photos you download, the more skype calls you make, the more gigs you use. Continue Reading
South Africa and America have a lot in common. Both countries are large and diverse. Both countries are “new” by European standards, and both are former British colonies. Both countries have fought bloody wars over racial oppression.
Both countries have a love affair with steak. Especially steak served in massive quantities, in grimy roadside strip malls.
Thunder Gun! The pickup (bakkie) parked in front is so appropriate. Continue Reading
I know I said I was going to look forward, not back, from now on. But I lied. There is one more day in 2011 that I want to write about.
Two and a half weeks ago I spent an afternoon in Chinatown with the blog girls — Martina, Karen, and Namrata. It was my first visit to Joburg’s ‘new’ Chinatown, which is in a suburb called Cyrildene. (‘New’ Chinatown in Cyrildene is not to be confused with ‘old’ Chinatown in the Joburg city centre. You may remember that I visited the old Chinatown a few months ago.)
My friends took me to Chinatown because I needed some cheering up, and I was also in dire need of a haircut. Karen knows a ridiculously cheap hair salon in Chinatown, and a Chinatown haircut is a great excuse to gorge on cheap, delicious Chinatown food. Continue Reading
The week I met Shelly, a faithful 2Summers reader who is in the middle of an epic trip around Southern Africa. (By the way, this is the coolest thing about blogging. I have fans!)
Shelly is awesome — she brought me tons of cool stuff from the States, including my favorite breakfast cereal, American baking chocolate, and birthday presents from my parents. She decided to spend some extra time in Jozi specifically because of my blog. So Joe and I wanted to show her some local places and treat her to a nice dinner.
Turns out Shelly introduced us to a new great place in our own home town. Continue Reading
Hooray for WordPress, who Freshly Pressed Voortrekker: My New Favorite Afrikaans Word on Thursday. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, and subscribed to my blog over the last few days.
For new readers expecting posts about South Africa: I’m in the States and have been blogging about America for the past two weeks. I’ll return to my usual subject matter later this week.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Between stints in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, I squeezed in a 36-hour visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where my mother lives. Hilton Head is a small island in the “Lowcountry” – a marshy region along the South Carolina/Georgia coast made famous by the movie Forrest Gump.
A Hilton Head marsh – classic Lowcountry topography.
Note: A “cuppa joe” is an American slang term for a cup of coffee. I’ve just been informed that people outside the U.S. might not know this.
When I left Washington D.C. for Joburg, I thought I was leaving coffee culture behind. I was under the impression that South Africa, like many other African countries I’ve visited, is ruled by tea drinkers.
I was dead wrong. People take coffee seriously in Joburg. And unlike D.C., where most people (including me when I lived there) get their caffeine fix from flimsy cardboard or styrofoam containers while driving or hurrying down sidewalks, Joburgers tend to drink their coffee from real, washable coffee cups, stirred with metal spoons, while sitting on actual chairs. Continue Reading