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johannesburg

Heather in a dress from Dr. Pachanga

Fashion Makeover with Dr. Pachanga

As I’ve said before, I consider myself to be an unfashionable person. But the longer I live in South Africa, the more fashionable I feel. I find the fashion in South Africa — and Africa in general — more fun than fashion in the United States. (No offense, American fashion designers: It’s not you, it’s me.) Dr. Pachanga is the embodiment of African fashion I like. Dr. Pachanga, the last king of Congo. Handbags à la Dr. Pachanga. Dr. Pachanga’s real name is Jean Rene Onyagunga. He was born in Kinshasa but grew up in Durban. Dr. Pachanga is a designer, an entrepreneur, a stylist, an actor, a photographer, and a social media persona. This photo describes Dr. Pachanga better than my words can. Dr. Pachanga, aka J.R., aka Doc. “I like to jump,” he told me. Fashion Spree at Dr. Pachanga I visited Dr. Pachanga’s shop in 44 Stanley last week to take photos for the Citizen. But somehow I wound up mostly on the wrong side of my camera lens, posing for photos instead of taking them. I also shopped more than I worked. I bought this. (Photo by Marie-Lais Emond) As part of the column she was writing, Marie-Lais asked […]

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Cappuccino from Flynn Coffee

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Flynn Coffee

In the third installment of an occasional series on my favorite new Jozi coffeeshops, I bring you Flynn Coffee in Kramerville. A Flynn cappuccino. Kramerville, as I’ve explained before, is a quasi-industrial area with a mixture of furniture warehouses, interior design shops, and hidden restaurants/cafés you would never find unless you hear about them from friends or stumble upon them while shopping for sofas. Flynn Coffee is one such café. I discovered Flynn on Instagram. I noticed a few of my coffee-loving friends posting photos from there — the setting looked beautiful and the coffee looked delicious. I eventually arranged to meet my friend Kathleen at Flynn and I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a beautiful place to hang out, with serious coffee (Flynn’s beans are roasted at Thirdspace) and friendly, talented baristas. Coffee At Flynn Like pretty much everywhere I’ve been in Kramerville, Flynn is tricky to find. It’s on Kramer Road (which is easy to find) but set back a bit from the street — kind of on a street behind the street, if that makes any sense — in a little brick structure in front of Coricraft Furniture. Flynn Coffee’s quirky spot in Kramerville.  The shop has a small outdoor […]

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Bonolo in her Melville garden

Bonolo’s Beautiful Melville Garden

Almost two months ago, I took photos of a beautiful Melville garden. The garden is only about thee blocks from my house and in plain sight along the verge (that thin strip of green between the sidewalk and the street) on 3rd Avenue. I’d never noticed it before though. For some reason I rarely drive or walk down that particular street. Marie-Lais wrote a great column about the garden in the Saturday Citizen. (Damn you, Citizen, for not publishing this column online. I’m forever frustrated that I can’t post it here.) I never got around to blogging about it myself. But then yesterday I drove past the garden again and remembered how amazing it is. The 3rd Avenue garden.  The garden’s creator is Andrew Mashilwane, who happens to live on 3rd Avenue, and was looking for something to do so he decided to make a garden. I call the garden “Bonolo’s Garden”, because Andrew’s three-year-old granddaughter Bonolo was there on the day I went and she is so freaking adorable and the photoshoot wound up being more about Bonolo than the garden itself. Bonolo and I developed a system during this photoshoot: I took a photo of her, I showed her the image […]

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Coffee machine at third space

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Thirdspace

In a continuation of an occasional series on my favorite new Jozi coffeeshops, I bring you Thirdspace in Fourways. Yes, Thirdspace is in Fourways, which means yes, it’s in a strip mall and opens out onto a parking lot. Trust me though — this is a strip mall coffeeshop worth visiting. Fourways, as I’ve written in a previous post, is a far-northern Jozi suburb known for its abundant shopping malls and traffic congestion. Navigating Fourways can be frustrating and leave one longing for an escape — a secret oasis off the road with comfortable chairs, good coffee, sandwiches, and free wifi. Thirdspace is just such an oasis. The sexy espresso machine at Thirdspace. Coffee + Work at Thirdspace In addition to being a coffeeshop, Thirdspace is also a coffee roastery and a co-working space. This place is extremely popular among freelancers, because it’s free and people are welcome — in fact they’re encouraged — to stay as long as they please. So if you want to spend the day working there I suggest you arrive early to snag a table. (They’re open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) Freelancers hard at work. Werk werk werk. I went to Thirdspace to do […]

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Skateboarding tour in front go graffiti

Skateboarding Across Jozi

I consider myself a connoisseur of Joburg walking tours. When I found out there is a skateboarding tour of Joburg, I obviously had to try it. From left to right: Ayanda, Tiffanie, Marie-Lais, and Tshepo during our City Skate Tour, in front of a graffiti piece by Tapz. I somehow made it through more than four decades of life without riding a skateboard. How different could it be from walking? I thought. Quite different, as it turns out. Standing on a four-wheeled piece of wood, sailing downhill, is nothing like walking at all — it’s both far more exhilarating and far more terrifying. I’m really glad I did the tour but the next time I’m going to spend less time taking pictures and more time actually learning how to skateboard. Let’s just say I still have a long way to go. Skateboarding with City Skate Tours Marie-Lais and I met our guides from City Skate Tours, Ayanda Mnandu and Tshepo Tsotsotso, and fellow tourist Tiffanie at Curiocity Backpackers in Maboneng. We spent a half hour or so learning skateboarding basics on the hill in front of Curiocity. Ayanda and Tshepo are great teachers. After many tries, I felt like I was […]

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Heather with 2Summers in Motion prints

2Summers in Motion

Many months ago, as I often do, I was talking to my friend Fiver about this blog. I was saying it was time for a new header image, and Fiver said she wanted to create something using linoprints. I said that sounded great. That’s how “2Summers in Motion” was born. 2Summers in Motion. I didn’t give Fiver any direction at all — I just asked her to make something and this is what she made. She’s talented like that. Each of the images portrays a different mode of transportation I’ve used in or around Joburg. The patterns in the background are inspired by South African shweshwe fabric. Fiver making one of the prints for the 2Summers in Motion series. You can see more pictures of Fiver working in this post about my business cards, which incorporate the same images. Once Fiver started making these prints, she realized she wanted to do a lot more with them than just make a blog header. She started printing the images on different kinds of paper, with different kinds of paint, with different patterns all around them. Her customers, including me, started buying the prints. 2Summers in Motion print. (Photos courtesy of Fiver Löcker) […]

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Bergbron Plaaskombuis breakfast

March Restaurant of the Month: Bergbron Plaaskombuis

Afrikaans is a crazy language, with super-long words filled with many vowels, guttural g’s, and rolling r’s requiring acrobatic tongue movements. Afrikaans food words are no exception; they are delightful and I have no idea what they mean or how to pronounce them. Such were my thoughts as I pondered the menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis. Bergbron Plaaskombuis. “Plaaskombuis” means farm kitchen. “Plaas” is farm and “kombuis” is kitchen and the two words are combined together into one long word, as often happens in Afrikaans. “Kwekery” means nursery. What is tuisgebakte and how on earth do I say it? What about boepensbroodjie, roosterbrode, sonop jaffel, vaaljapie? Skilpadjies? The menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis, which the server delivered with a tiny tin cup of homemade ginger beer.  Bergbron (another inscrutable Afrikaans word) is a western Jozi suburb, adjacent to Northcliff, Greymont, and Florida Glen. I was excited to discover an interesting restaurant there (thanks to Gail for the tip), as I find the sprawling West Rand suburbs difficult to penetrate from a “things to do” perspective. The Plaaskombuis is definitely something worth doing. Breakfast at Bergbron Plaaskombuis Marie-Lais and I went to the Plaaskombuis on a cold, rainy Friday morning. The restaurant sits on the property […]

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Two bunnies and lady doing yoga

Yoga + Bunnies

Did I mention that a few weeks ago I was invited to take pictures of a group of people doing yoga with bunnies? Bunnies — as in actual rabbits? Yup. The Lonehill Bunnies is an animal rescue in Lonehill (near Fourways) that focuses on rescuing and caring for stray and abandoned domestic rabbits. The bunny yoga event was a fundraiser for these lost bunnies. I feel kind of bad publishing this post. I’m pretty sure the moment it’s up I’ll start getting messages from people asking how they, too, can do yoga with bunnies. Sorry, wannabe bunny yogis — I don’t have an answer for you. As of now this was a once-off event, but hopefully the folks at Lonehill Bunnies will schedule another one soon. I feel they would be crazy not to, as this looks like a fundraising goldmine if I ever saw one. In the meantime, I can’t not share these photos as they are too awesome. Yoga with the Lonehill Bunnies This bunny yoga session was the first of its kind in South Africa. (Apparently something like this has happened before in Canada, but that’s the only other place anyone knows of.) It was basically the […]

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Yield coffees and sandwiches

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Yield Coffee Bar

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote my top five Jozi coffeeshops post. All the places mentioned in that post are still great. But I’ve discovered several good new coffeeshops lately so I thought I’d do a series of short posts about them. First up: Yield Coffee Bar. Yield is in Linden, which has always been one of my favorite Jozi suburbs for eating out. I didn’t discover Yield right away because it’s a block away from Linden’s big cluster of restaurants along 7th Street and 4th Avenue — at the corner of 6th Street and 3rd Avenue. Looking in on Yield Coffee Bar. Inside Yield. Yield is a tiny, simple little place. It serves delicious coffee — the beans come from Urban Grind Roasters, which I wrote about in my top five coffeeshops post — and sandwiches. I met a friend there for lunch and we had iced coffees and salami and cheese paninis. Good iced coffee is hard to find in this town (although it’s starting to get easier, thank god) and Yield serves a good one. Iced coffee and sandwiches. Note the biodegradable cardboard straws. I wish every restaurant would do away with crappy plastic straws and start […]

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Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores

“Renee’s Little Killers” at Jozi Carnivores

After I published my recent blog post about Bonsai Magic, a lady named Renee emailed and asked if I’d like to visit her nursery in Houghton. The nursery is called Jozi Carnivores. Carnivorous plants. Plants that murder stuff. Yaaaaassssssss. Renee didn’t have to ask me twice. Here’s a question that just popped into my head: If a human vegetarian eats a carnivorous plant — a plant that eats animals — is the vegetarian still a vegetarian? Discuss. Anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by venus fly traps. This is the species we all think about when we hear the term “carnivorous plant” — a plant with prickly little trap-like hands that clamp shut around their prey. A Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores. That bug sitting on the plant is actually a hollow carcass — the plant already killed and ate it. Renee demonstrates how the fly trap traps. But actually, there are lots of other different kinds of carnivorous plants that murder and consume their food in various horrific ways. All of them are fascinating. The American trumpet pitcher, for example, lures insects to its “trumpet” with sweet-smelling nectar. The insect slips and falls down the long, skinny plant shaft and gets trapped […]

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Jozi skyline at sunset

That Jozi Skyline

I have a friend who owns a flat in Hallmark House, a recently renovated building in the center of downtown Joburg. Hallmark House is one of the best places in the city, if not the best place, to view the Jozi skyline. The view from my friend’s balcony. This friend wishes to remain anonymous, as I’m sure you’ll understand. Otherwise she’d have every photographer in the city trying to bang her door down. A couple of nights ago, the anonymous friend invited me and a few other friends to photograph the sunset from her 12th-floor balcony. I’ve taken lots of photos of the Jozi skyline before, from lots of different buildings. In fact I’ve been to Hallmark House multiple times and to this very balcony more than once. But there was something special about this particular night. I’ve certainly see more dramatic sunsets than this, with crazier clouds and more dramatic colors. But the light on this evening was perfect and so was the city. View of the city around 5:30 p.m., before the real show started. It had been cloudy all day with on-and-off thunderstorms — weather conditions that bode well for sunset. As the sun went down behind […]

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Pizza and beer at Impi Brewing Company

February Restaurant of the Month: Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville

It’s time for the second installment of my 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. This month I’m featuring the Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville. I almost hesitate to call Impi a restaurant, as it’s really more of a hangout. But Impi has such a cool atmosphere, in such an interesting Joburg location, that I feel compelled to include it in this series. Outside Impi Brewing Co. Impi means “war” in Zulu. Impi is in the new Victoria Yards complex, in the tiny suburb of Lorentzville, which is between Bertrams and Troyeville. My friend Gail just wrote an interesting post about Lorentzville, which I recommend. Lorentzville is also home to the legendary Fama Deli. The first cool thing about Impi is it’s in Victoria Yards, this sprawling warren of artists’ studios and gardens and galleries and workshops that just opened a few months ago. (I briefly mentioned Victoria Yards in a post last month.) The second cool thing is the decor: It’s a tiny place filled with an eclectic mix of Zulu art/artifacts, modern industrial furnishings, and quirky antiques. Inside Impi Brewing Co. with owners Nico (left) and Tsietsi (right), and bartender Kgomotso (middle). I love the headdresses on the wall behind them. The […]

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