If you live in Joburg, you know that the most popular beaded animal of 2013 is the rainbow giraffe. Beaded rainbow giraffes. Beaded giraffes are nothing new in South Africa, nor are beaded animals in rainbow colors. But this particular design — the giraffe with a super-long neck, loveable face, and bright, blocky horizontal stripes — appeared earlier this year and has taken the beaded animal world by storm. Every beaded animal artisan in town is churning out rainbow giraffes, and they’re selling like hotcakes. I can see why. It’s impossible to look at a rainbow giraffe and not smile.
I’m grateful that it’s sunny in Joburg on Christmas Day, even though the weather forecast predicted clouds and rain. I’m grateful that my sister flew here from America to be with me, and that she decided to stage an impromptu photo session in the aloe tree this morning. That was a really nice Christmas present. Here is a photo strip documenting the experience. Susanna climbs the tree.
I gave myself a new blog for Christmas. It’s a good time to reinvent myself. It’s been a heck of a year. I’ve experienced immense joy in 2011, along with unimaginable grief and despair. The last two months in particular have left me feeling like someone removed my internal organs, beat them to a pulp with a hammer, then placed them back inside my body. And the year ain’t over yet. So. Time for a change. I loved my old header image of the South African and U.S. flags flapping in the wind. Joe shot the photo in Melville during the 2010 World Cup, just before I moved here. It was a unique image that communicated a lot about who I am and what my blog is about.
We had a quiet Christmas Day at the Lucky 5 Star. The most notable thing about it, for me at least, was the weather — it was about 30 degrees Celsius (that’s upper 80s for you Americans) with blinding bright sun. It was a beautiful day, but I felt a little unsettled. It just didn’t feel like Christmas to me. Christmas morning at the Lucky 5 Star.
Melville is known for its musty book shops, vintage clothing stores, and a lively bar scene. It’s also known for its rats. Rats are a common sight in Melville and the most popular bar in town is aptly named Ratz. Joe used to be a regular patron at Ratz, in the good old days when rats ran free around Melville. (Although I’m disappointed to report that Joe never actually saw a rat at Ratz.) Current-day Ratz in the late afternoon. Today, Ratz has had a makeover and is actually quite posh, in a quasi-seedy kind of way.
This afternoon we had to go to the mall to buy a ream of computer paper. (As everyone here knows, you can’t buy anything in South Africa without going to the mall.) I was dreading it. Who in their right mind goes to a mall on December 21? In America, such a trip would involve driving in circles for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot and then fighting hordes of angry Christmas procrastinators. Instead, we found this: The Mall at Rosebank, 4:00 p.m., December 21.
If you’re a regular 2Summers reader, you know by now that I’m a big fan of South African street art. For the last few weeks, the bead guys have really stepped up their game, cranking out all kinds of holiday-themed creations and other generally cool stuff. I’ve been looking for photo ops but have discovered that photographing wire bead art is extremely difficult. It’s always displayed in the middle of a busy sidewalk, with cars parked in the background and people constantly tramping by. Plus, when I — an American woman with a camera — convey even the slightest hint of interest in a display of bead art, I am immediately engulfed by eager salesmen shoving beaded animals in my face. It’s hard to capture anything photographically under such circumstances. This is an especially serious obstacle on 7th Street in Melville, a bead artist hotbed.
Spending the holidays in a warm place in the northern hemisphere (like Hilton Head Island, where my mom lives) is one thing. But celebrating Christmas during summer is quite another. My brain doesn’t know what to make of it. Over the next few weeks, I will periodically post pictures of what the holidays look like in South Africa. One of the coolest decorations I’ve seen so far is this “indigenous Christmas tree” at the Melville Visitor Centre.