It’s my second full day in Joburg. I’m sitting on the deck of my new house in Melville, soaking up the late winter sun, admiring the small purple flowers on the potted rosemary plant, and listening to a chorus of bird calls. There’s a neon-yellow weaver making a nest at the back of the garden — it’s a bouncy ball of green leaves suspended from a vine hanging off a tree branch.
It looks, sounds, and smells like Africa.
I’m renting the house with my boyfriend, who would rather not be named. I’ll call him Joe. He moved in two weeks ago so everything was nicely arranged when I arrived. I don’t want to overuse my superlatives, but this is the coolest house I’ve ever lived in. It has a sprawling kitchen with white wooden cabinets and a separate sink for rinsing vegetables. The living room is huge with dark brown parquet floors. The bathroom is tiled floor to ceiling with antique yellow and white tiles, and has a huge walk-in shower. The windows open out and have curly-q-shaped bars on them.
The garden, on a hillside behind the house, is a riot of indigenous plants. Joe is schooling me on all the names. There are cabbage trees, and aloes, and and a prickly thing called a haak-en-steek, which hangs over the fence and will attack intruders with painful thorns. There are jade bushes and a magnolia, and a lemon tree with real lemons, a section of which is in my water glass. You can walk through the garden on a winding path and lean against the rough stone ledges.
It’s Sunday afternoon and we’ve only left the house twice since I got here Friday. The first time was dinner on Friday evening. We walked two blocks to 7th Street, the main drag in Melville, and had dinner at a restaurant called the Lucky Bean. We sat on a balcony overlooking the street and had spicy haloumi with tomato sauce and springbok pie.
The other sojourn was yesterday evening. We took a walk through the Melville Koppies, a nature reserve dotted with Iron-Age artefacts that’s just a block from here. We picked our way through the rocks to the top of the hill and gazed over the Joburg skyline at dusk. I was breathless when we reached to the top. Joburg is 5,700 feet above sea level — 500 feet higher than Denver. The air is thin and dry and I definitely need to invest in some good lip balm.
Other than that we’ve just been hanging out — unpacking and cooking and listening to music. It’s impossible to overstate how blissfully happy I am, especially since the volcanic explosion that burst from my three suitcases onto the bedroom floor has been organized and put away. Now I can relax.
No encounters with Millie yet. I’ve been watching my step.