I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I should say a few words about this place where I’m living.
Johannesburg (Joburg, Jo’burg, Jozi, JHB) is the largest city in South Africa and the fourth-largest in Africa. Interestingly, South Africa has three official capital cities but Johannesburg is not one of them.
Joburg is known for crime, and the abundance of security fences and armed guards bears that out. It’s also known for trees: Joburg has more than 10 million trees and is the largest man-made forest in the world.
It’s a sprawling city, comprised of the Central Business District (CBD) and a web of suburbs and townships. “Suburb” has a different meaning here than in the U.S. – Joburg suburbs are more like neighborhoods than towns.
Joe and I live in Melville, a suburb northwest of the CBD. Wikipedia calls Melville bohemian. I call it retro-Afro-artsy.
Here are some typical (or typical in that they’re atypical) houses in Melville:
I love walking up and down the streets and looking at the houses. Every house has something (or many things) funky about it – a wall covered in creepers, an ornate iron gate, a spiral stairway, a glass tile house number, or a crazy-looking palm tree. It feels foreign and comfortable and fascinating – right where I want to be.
There are lots of restaurants and shops within walking distance of our house, which is good because I’m still terrified to drive. This afternoon we walked two blocks to a restaurant – call it a casual upscale coffee shop – called Service Station. I had a haloumi salad. Haloumi is my new favorite food – a hardy Greek cheese served grilled or fried. It’s everywhere here. Joe had a beef fillet sandwich, which was delicious. Red meat is very big in South Africa.
Our waitress at Service Station was Vikki. Vikki is also our neighbor – or housemate, really. She lives with her mother, Leslee, in the cottage apartment connected to our house. Vikki and Leslee have a giant gray tabby cat, Fruffy, who likes to sit on the roof.
And then there is Lucky, our caretaker/gardener/housekeeper extraordinaire. Lucky lives here too, in a one-room apartment outside our door. I’m a bit in awe of Lucky. I will write a special post about him soon.
We have a nice five-person, one-cat commune here in Melville.