Read all my lockdown journal posts.

It’s Day 36 of the South African lockdown — the first day of lockdown Level 4. It’s May Day and we went OUTSIDE.

People walking outside in Melville
Lockdown photo 36: OUTSIDE.

As of today, South Africans are allowed to go outside for exercise between 6 and 9 a.m. daily. Initially I wasn’t super excited about this rule, as you may have read yesterday. It’s unnecessarily restrictive, and the timing is poorly thought out as the sun rises late in South Africa at this time of year.

Nonetheless, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30. I didn’t want to miss my first opportunity in five weeks to go for a walk. I made coffee, threw on some yoga pants, packed my camera, took the garbage out, and walked outside by around 7:15.

Two minutes later I remembered I’d forgotten my face mask, so I went back home to get it. By then it had already become too hot for the puffy jacket I was wearing. (I really should never complain about the weather in Joburg.) I traded the jacket for a thin fleece, donned my mask, and headed out again.

Guys. I cannot explain the unabashed joy I experienced during this hour-long walk around Melville. The light. The air. The colors. The sounds. The trees. The leaves. The flowers. The houses. The people. The dogs. The stylish array of face masks. I loved it. I loved it I loved it I loved it. Four hours later I’m still buzzing from it.

I can’t find any more words to explain how happy this walk made me. So here are the photos.

Melville Street
The street.
Shadows on the street
Melville doorways
This has always been one of my favorite Melville doorways.
Succulent garden at 27 Boxes
The beautiful succulent garden at 27 Boxes. If you crouch down and look up, it almost feels like being in the bush.
Wonderboy security guard at 27 Boxes
Wonderboy, a security guard at 27 Boxes. Wonderboy wins today’s prize for best mask.
Baker brothers
Tafara, one of the two brothers behind the Baker Brothers, was standing outside his bakery when I passed. Please note the Baker Brothers are open again and they deliver to Melville and surrounds. Contact them at 063-850-6037.
Aguil and Maddy
I bumped into several friends during my walk, which is the best part about the limited exercising time constraint: Everyone is out at the same time so there’s a good chance of bumping into people. This is Aguil, who I hadn’t seen for ages, and her dog Madi.
Recycling guys
Informal recyclers on 6th Avenue. I am so glad these guys were allowed to get back to work today.

There is so much rage on the Internet right now. I don’t think I’ve seen so many angry rants on Facebook since the lockdown began, and I get what everyone is saying and feeling.

But just for today, I went for a walk OUTSIDE and I’m super happy. I’m going to try to bake some May Day banana bread now.

Today’s Worthy Cause

While we’re on the subject of Melville’s 27 Boxes: There is a great independent African literature bookstore there called Book Circle Capital.

Book Circle Capital in 27 Boxes
A photo I shot at Book Circle Capital a couple of years ago.

Book stores are still not allowed to open under Level 4, which is really too sad for words. Books are essential! [UPDATE (5 May): Book Circle Capital has re-opened! Visit them between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.]

Anyway, Book Circle Capital is running a promotion to try to survive. Here’s what they told me: “We are trying various things to ensure that we survive this period. We have set up a voucher option through Yoco, our payment system, where people can buy a voucher and then come redeem it when the lockdown period is over. This ensures that we maintain the cashflow.”

You can buy a Book Circle Capital voucher here:

See you tomorrow.

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