Six weeks from today I’m switching hemispheres. I’m moving from Washington, D.C, to Johannesburg, South Africa. I’ll leave D.C. on August 5, at the height of summer, and arrive in Joburg on August 6, in winter. So I’ll be living an extra summer this year — hence the name of the blog.
(Technically, I suppose I’ll be living two springs, part of two summers, part of two winters, and no falls in 2010. But I don’t think “2 springs,” “2 half-summers,” or “0 falls” really work as blog names.)
The story behind my upcoming move is very long and I wouldn’t even know where to start. So I’ll begin with the basics.
I’m a 36 year-old woman. (Actually I’m still 35 — my birthday is in 13 days. But who’s counting.) I recently left a marriage although that is a story for another blog.
I work as a writer/editor for a non-profit organization, and I’ve traveled to Africa several times for work, which is how this all came about. I’m leaving my job on July 30. I don’t have a new job lined up in South Africa yet, although I have vague plans to continue consulting for my current organization and pursue freelance work.
When I tell people I’m moving to South Africa, their first question is usually, “For how long?” My answer is, “indefinitely.” I booked a round-trip ticket and I’ll be back here in October to tie up loose ends. But for all intents and purposes my move is permanent.
The second question people ask when I tell them I’m moving to Africa is, “Why?” The short answer to that one is: “1) I think I belong there; and 2) I’m in love with someone who lives there.”
Obviously there is a lot more to say on those topics but I’m keeping it brief for now.
I plan to make this a travel blog. But since I haven’t left yet I’ll start with my local travels.
This morning I traveled eight blocks to the D.C. passport office on 19th St., in a quest to reload my passport with more visa pages. I only have a few blank pages left.
It was quite a scene in there — like a super-multicultural version of the DMV, with more screaming babies. I passed through the metal detector, reluctantly relinquished my passport into the drop-box, and got the heck out. Hopefully it will be returned to me as promised in two-and-a-half weeks — it better because I coughed up 60 bucks for expedited service.
I then journeyed several more blocks to my local AAA office, where I obtained an international driving permit. What does this entail, you might ask? Basically, I walked into the office, handed my driver’s license and two passport photos to the nice lady behind the counter, paid $15, and walked out 15 minutes later with a very official, passport-y-looking document. It’s quite lovely!
Having this permit in my possession makes me feel slightly less terrified by the prospect of driving in a sprawling African city with a reputation for aggressive drivers, unfriendly traffic policemen, and malfunctioning traffic lights. Oh, and people drive on the “wrong” side of the road.
Okay, I’m still terrified. But I love my new driving permit.