Executing a Hemispheric Switch

Deciding to move to South Africa is one thing. Actually doing it is another.

When I made this decision in January, my first order of business was to uproot myself from a marriage, and a house, and an entire life that I realized I didn’t belong in. There are no words to describe this process, and it’s not what this blog is about anyway, so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say it was, umm, hard, and required most of my energy for several months. I think the worst is over now.

Around May, I realized I better start planning to move.

I love to travel and I’ve taken some big international trips — most of them have been two or three weeks long. I even took a semester off when I was 20 and moved to London for five months.

But how does one plan to leave the country forever? I’m not really sure, but here’s what I’ve done so far:

1) I picked a departure date (Aug. 5) and bought a plane ticket. It’s more expensive than I’d hoped but I was too impatient to wait and see if the price would go down. It’s a round-trip ticket (I’m coming back to visit in October) on South African Airways and it cost $1,800.

I’ve taken this flight before. It’s 17.5 hours and technically “direct,” although the plane stops in Senegal to refuel. (This could be a nice diversion if you were allowed to deplane in Dakar, but no. You just sit on the runway for an hour and enjoy the aroma of the airplane restrooms being cleaned. Then take off again for the remaining 11 hours of the flight.) Even the most good-natured person feels like an axe-murderer at the end of this flight. But I chose it over a connecting flight through Europe because I have an irrational fear of Icelandic ash clouds delaying my arrival in South Africa.

2) I’ve given away/sold/thrown away/donated/stored about 92% of my possessions. Still about 3% to go.

3) I rented a house in Johannesburg. Actually, I didn’t do this — my South African boyfriend did — but I participated in the process from afar. We’ll be living in a two-bedroom house in a neighborhood called Melville. I’m very excited and I’ll say a lot more about this later.

4) I got international health insurance.

5) I sent away for extra passport visa pages and got an international driving license. (See blog #1.)

6) I bought lots of sturdy, yet attractive, shoes. Okay, maybe this wasn’t necessary. But it’s been a tough six months and my feet deserve a reward.

I’ve got a few more items to check off the list — sell car, sort out banking situation, pack — but I think I’m in good shape for one month out. Let’s see how I feel at T minus two weeks.

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  • Reply Deano July 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Been reading your blog. I love the updates. Wow, never realized so much goes into this move. I would be overwhelmed to say the least! You go girl! Sounds like you’re on the right track so far though.

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