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Gay Pride 2011 float

Lockdown Journal: Day 47 (The Third Quarter)

It’s Day 47 of the South African lockdown, and I think I’m suffering from third-quarter isolation. Albert Vorster, a longtime reader with a knack for sending me articles that perfectly encapsulate feelings I didn’t realize I had, sent me this Australian story about “the dreaded third quarter of isolation” this morning. The article, written two weeks ago by James Purtill, explains: “Researchers have found there appears to be an inflection point where the frustration and hardship of being cooped up inside gets suddenly harder to bear. According to the clinical psychologist who assesses the mental health of Australians in Antarctica, we’re entering this phase now.” The author goes on: “Australians have broadly been through two periods of isolation: an initial point where there was panic buying and confusion, and then a ‘honeymoon period’ when it felt novel and different to stay at home…That phase — which we can call the sourdough starter moment, or the time when we all downloaded Houseparty — is passing.” Wow, this really hit the nail on the head for me. I remember that first phase so clearly — the last couple of days before lockdown, when I tossed and turned all night and jumped out […]

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Heather in mask made by Cathy Pinnock

Lockdown Journal: Day 46 (Face Masks and Feelings)

It’s Day 46 of the South African lockdown. Today I have lots of face masks and lots of feelings. A few days ago I asked Facebook for advice on shooting photographs while wearing a mask. My viewfinder was fogging up as soon as I put my camera to my face, and I kept missing shots. Through that post I connected with Cathryn Pinnock, another photographer living in Melville, who is making camera-friendly face masks. Cathy sewed a mask for me — I sent her measurements for the length and width of my face and she made it to order — and I’m pleased to announce it works like a charm. The mask sits firmly, a bit higher up on the nose, so the air from my breath doesn’t shoot right up into the camera. Bonus: The masks are beautiful and made with South African shweshwe fabric. If you’d like to order a camera-friendly mask, contact Cathryn Pinnock on Facebook or send me a message and I’ll put you in touch with her (#NotSponsored). UPDATE: I dawdled so long on this post today that I wound up receiving yet another mask delivery before I got around to finishing. Love Jozi has […]

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Note from Kelvin

Lockdown Journal: Day 29 (Exchange of Humanity)

If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day (now 35-day) lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts. It’s lockdown day 29. I’m going to tell you a story I meant to tell yesterday but forgot. I mentioned in previous posts that I periodically place bags of food outside my gate for whoever comes along. I include whatever I have laying around: half a loaf of bread, a box of crackers, an orange, a tomato, a can of tuna, chocolate brownies. I try to buy extra food each time I go to the store so I always have a few things ready. Usually the bag disappears within an hour or two. But on Tuesday I put my bag out a bit late and I guess it got dark before anyone saw it. Yesterday (Thursday), I pulled into the driveway after coming back from food-shopping and noticed a crumpled piece of paper near the car. (I almost didn’t see it because there are so many leaves in my driveway. I really need to deal with those.) I unfolded the paper and it was the note above, written on the […]

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Heather and Jon in Tanzania, March 2007

Lockdown Journal: Day 16 (My 1000th Blog Post)

If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day (now 35-day) lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts. Welcome to Lockdown Day 16, and to my 1000th blog post of all time. Just for today, I’ve decided to put aside all lockdown and COVID-19 talk. We’ve got a minimum of 19 more days of lockdown and I imagine you’re just as tired of reading about it as I am of writing about it. I’ve published 1000 blog posts over the past decade. (The ten-year anniversary of 2Summers is also approaching, on 26 June.) It’s not every day that a blogger gets to say that. So today I’m going to indulge myself a bit, forget about the global pandemic, and tell you a story about how this blog started in the first place. To do that I need to back up to March 2007, when I traveled to Tanzania. * * * * * * * * * * I’m 32 and it’s my first trip to Africa. Traveling to Africa for a writing-related work assignment (I work in communications for and HIV/AIDS nonprofit in Washington) is a dream […]

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beaded bird in my garden

Joburg COVID-19 Lockdown Journal: Day 5

If you’re new to this blog series (and/or you live under a boulder) and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown journal entries. It’s Lockdown Day 5 and I have a lot to say. My thoughts are numerous: I just realized that if I continue publishing one post per day throughout the lockdown, which I plan to do, I will publish my 1000th 2Summers blog post on 11 April (Day 16 of the lockdown). It’s a weird time to celebrate that kind of milestone but I’m pretty excited about it. I’m sure it will help keep me going over the next 10 days. My muscles are sore from all the skip-roping, which is actually a good feeling. I’ve been trying hard to save my Baker Brothers sourdough bread for as long as possible. Today I took it out of the fridge and noticed there was mould on the outside. Instead of throwing the bread away, as I would have in the past, I just cut the mouldy crust off. These are like medieval times, people. Anyway I will probably have to visit my beloved Melville Spar for a grocery […]

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Couple sitting on a bench in Delta Park during the COVID-19 response in Joburg

Life in Joburg During COVID-19

Yesterday, when I decided to write this, my idea was to make it an upbeat post about things to do in Joburg while “social distancing” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I posted on my social media channels asking for suggestions — especially suggestions for things to do that will help small businesses — and I received quite a few. I also started jotting down my own ideas. Number one on my list was visiting Joburg’s beautiful public parks. Then I saw the announcement that Joburg’s parks were closing. I jumped in my car immediately and headed to Delta Park, where huge banks of cosmos flowers bloom every March. The cosmos form magical clouds of pink and white petals, floating just below the Joburg skyline. I tried to stay calm as I drove, barely able to speak to my friend Julie, who I picked up on the way. I had to get into Delta Park to see the flowers. I had to. I didn’t know what I would do with myself if I couldn’t walk among those pink and white clouds at least once in 2020. The gate was still open. Delta Park was open. Thank god thank god thank […]

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Ostrich sculptures in the Wilds

Looking Back at 2019. Looking Forward to 2020.

I don’t normally write year-end wrap-up posts. I’m usually long asleep by midnight on 31 December. I don’t make New Years resolutions or assign much importance to the end of a calendar year. But this isn’t just the end of a year — it’s the end of a decade. And boy, was it a doozie. Perhaps that’s why I feel compelled to summarize my transition from the 20-teens into the 20-twenties. I’ll have a lot more to say about my decade of life in South Africa as 2020 progresses. In the meantime, here are some highlights and lowlights of 2019 and thoughts looking forward to the coming year. 2019 Travel Highlights I had a comparatively low-key travel year. But I really enjoyed every trip I took, and my South African travels inspired the idea for my upcoming #10SouthAfricanTowns project. (More on that later.) These were my five favorite trips in 2019. 1) Maputo In March I spent five days in Maputo, Mozambique, wandering the city on foot and exploring museums, markets, restaurants, and architecture. Maputo is a highly underrated city, as I detailed in my post. 2) The Swartland and Hermanus In May I flew into Cape Town, headed northwest […]

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Succulent flowers in my garden

Feeling South Africa’s Pain

Back in the olden days, I often used this blog as a vessel for my grief and sadness. I went through a lot of tangible pain in the early 2Summers years — losing a partner to addiction, among other things — and the blog was one of my coping mechanisms. (You can find those old posts under the grief hashtag — scroll back to the early ones.) As the years wore on I blogged more about having fun in Joburg and South Africa than I did about pain and grief. My life got happier, and my blog became more popular as a resource for things to do and places to travel to. I took the ball and ran with it. I’ve loved Joburg and South Africa since the day I arrived here, and expressing that love through upbeat, informative blog posts came naturally. I’ve received so many wonderful messages from people who have used this blog to get to know Joburg and South Africa. People thank me for my optimism — for showing them the “good side” of this city and this country. I’m incredibly grateful for those messages and I’m grateful I discovered a path that allows me to […]

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Heather, a 40-something woman photographing the sunset

Rants and Rages of a 40-Something Woman

About a year ago I saw an article on Facebook titled, “The New Midlife Crisis: Why (and How) It’s Hitting Gen X Women.” The article, published on, is all about how 40-something women are basically losing their minds. I rarely have patience for long-form writing — i.e. any article longer than 1,500 words. Who has that kind of attention span these days? But I read this article from beginning to end, more than once, and I can’t stop thinking about it even now. The article sums up the feelings I’ve been having for the past couple of years — a potent combination of anxiety, fear, gratitude, guilt, euphoria, frustration, despondency…and white-hot rage. Generation X is the generation born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, sandwiched between the larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Our parents were hippies and had fewer kids than their parents did. We were the children of divorce, the first latch-key kids. And the female half of Generation X was the first generation expected to “have it all” — a family, a high-powered career, and all the joys and struggles that go along with those two things. Apparently Generation X women are also the first […]

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Heather over a canal in Amsterdam

Solo Traveling, Never Alone

A few months ago I received an invitation to my friends’ wedding in Vienna. I’d never been to Vienna before so I decided to go. While I’m at it, I thought, I should really go to Berlin. I’d never been there either and I had an open invitation from an old friend. And while I’m at it, I thought, I should visit Fiver and Stuart on their boat. They live on a boat every summer and float around somewhere in Europe. This summer they would be floating through the Netherlands. I’d never been to the Netherlands before (can you see the pattern here?) so I decided I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. And once I’m in the Netherlands, I thought, I have to go to Amsterdam. Because (you guessed it) I’d never been to Amsterdam and that’s just unacceptable. Thus I embarked on the #2SummersEuropeanTrip, a solo traveling journey in which I was never alone. At a vineyard just outside Vienna, dressed up for Ruth and Michael’s wedding. (Photo: Jeremy Yung) Cycling through Berlin. (Photo: Jeroen Van Marle) Driving a century-old boat named Hendrika down a canal in the northern Netherlands. (Photo: Fiver Löcker) A typical scene in Amsterdam. (Photo: Fiver […]

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Heather on End Street

Thoughts on Blogging (Which Is Kind of a Stupid Word)

I woke up this morning thinking I have to blog. I have time. I have things I can blog about — there are always things to blog about. But none of my ideas feel quite ready yet, for one reason or another. And I don’t really feel like blogging. The only thing I can motivate myself to blog about is my lack of motivation to blog. I’m re-reading what I’ve written so far and looking at these words: blog, blogging. Blog, blogger, bloggety-blog-blogged. Blog sounds like smog and blag and bog and fog. I remember now why it took me so long to start calling myself a blogger: Because it’s kind of a stupid word. Lately I’ve been blogging about once a week, which is fine. The beauty of blogging, as I tell other people all the time, is I can do it whenever I like, about whatever I like, as much or as little as I like. But once a week is below my average for the past couple of years. Last year I was a blogging machine, posting at least twice a week, usually three times or even four. If I wasn’t writing a blog post or obsessively checking my […]

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Shanana Malawi boat

Hi from Malawi

Malawi. I type the word and stare at it, say it over and over in my head. I google Malawi and get this from Wikipedia: The name Malawi is thought to derive from the word Maravi. The people of the Maravi Empire were iron workers. Maravi is thought to mean “Flames” and may have come from the sight of many kilns lighting up the night sky. The Shanana Malawi, docked at an island in Lake Malawi. I spent ten days in Malawi. On the ninth day, sitting in the beach bar at Fat Monkeys Lodge in Cape Maclear, eating a chicken mayo sandwich and staring out at the lake, I began mentally composing a blog post. As I was doing that, I started to cry and had to quickly wipe the tears away when a guy in the bar walked up and asked if I knew where to find an ATM. (I didn’t.) I wish I’d gone to my room right then and written the post. Now that I’m back in Joburg it seems kind of melodramatic and I’ve been stalling on blogging for three days now, because I need to write this before I can move on to anything […]

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