Welcome to Africa!

So we have landed at long last! And now a year exactly to the date since we found out we were coming to South Africa, here we are.

I am currently sitting in a very bare and frankly quite chilly house, the children are rattling around somewhere while – although it is my birthday (!) – my husband is at work 😦 . He has promised to be home in time to take us out to lunch though.

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Last night we tried to go out for a meal but were thwarted by load shedding – a particular South African problem whereby there isn’t enough electricity to go round so each district has to do without power for a few hours, a couple of times each week. Unbeknownst to us (as many, many things are at this stage), last night was the turn of the area where we live. Just as we were arriving at the place we had chosen to eat all the lights went out. We entered the mall just as everyone else was streaming out. Shops were shut, the restaurants were packing up. Luckily the supermarket must have a generator (as, luckily, do we) and was still open so we bought a ready-cooked chicken and some salad and ate at home. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

As well as load-shedding, I have also been introduced to one of the other problems in this country – crime and security – by having to fight our way through three layers and about five locks to get on to our patio this morning. And that isn’t counting the “keep” door at the top of our stairs. And not forgetting the electric wire around our house and the guard at the gate to our compound. You definitely feel like you are living in a well-protected fortress.

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Other “issues” I have so far encountered though are as much a part of moving somewhere new as moving to South Africa: being woken early in the morning by unusual sounds (in this case the screechy hadada birdsΒ  – a type of ibis whose noise isn’t that dissimilar to our seagulls back home); not being able to find anything in the kitchen cupboards (and there not being much to find anyway – we had to wait for the dishwasher to finish this morning before we could have more than one knife between us for our toast); knowing where to buy decent peanut butter that hasn’t got a ton of sugar added; leaky taps and showers, curtains that don’t quite fit in the middle…..

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But teething problems, lack of electricity and security issues aside, there are certainly plenty of compensations. The pound is very strong against the rand at the moment, which means that a decent bottle of red wine costs about a third of the price you would pay in the UK. It’s cold at night, but the days are full of bright sunshine and the winter temperatures warmer than back home in England (where rain seems to be the order of the day). We might be living behind bars and barbed wire but every day I am grateful for how well protected we are by seeing how the majority of people have to live in this “beautiful but troubled” (as everyone seems to label it) country.

Yes, overall I think we are going to like it here. It’s been a long journey from the day we first told the girls we were moving to South Africa , I realise we are still in the very early, “honeymoon” stage and there will be many mountains to climb ahead of us. But I am sure in the end it will all be worth it.

Anyone else out there just moved? How are you enjoying your first few days?Β 

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36 thoughts on “Welcome to Africa!

    • It feels like the quiet before the storm – I have nearly finished unpacking our suitcases and we did a bit wash yesterday so we are actually in a period of calm before the rest of our stuff arrives and the girls start school (next week). It’s quite nice at the moment, although it feels like we are staying in someone’s very nice holiday home rather than our own house….

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  1. Happy Birthday. I was in South Africa for about two weeks and was amazed at all the barbed wire etc. It was nonetheless a beautiful place and I met many kind people there. Enjoy! I look forward to reading about your adventures.

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  2. Happy birthday to you Clara! The security sounds a little unnerving but what a place. It is not only a naturally beautiful place but there are many things that you will come across that remind you have far these people have come… and how far they have to go. One thing I always like doing is reading the local newspaper. Hope your kids settle in well and you enjoy making your new house a home. xx

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  3. Glad you all made it there safely and happily. Look forward to reading any blog posts for your first few weeks. We’re now homeless having completed our house sale today. We don’t fly out to New Zealand for another two weeks. Doing a goodbye tour of various friends and family’s guest bedrooms until then.

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  4. Welcome to SA Clara. If you have a phone already you need to install the news24 Gridwatch app – plug in your neighbourhood, then you know when the load shedding is going to hit! It even has a handy torch function. It seems like you’re sorted with the wine though – the other load shedding essential.

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  5. Hi. And I am soooo jealous. We – my husband and I did a two year stint in ZA and we miss it every day. You don’t say where you are located. But if we can be of help, please let us know. We still”have friends, we visit as often as we can, and like I said … we dream of coming back.

    Someone above gave great advice. Woolworths is great. The black tub yoghurt are to die for! A personal favourite is their crema balsamica. And sea salt and black pepper crisps. Sigh …

    Pick n pay is my next favourite for groceries.

    Don’t be afraid of Africa. It’s got more bad media than anywhere else on earth. The whole of ZA is on gps. Even the national parks! And the best holidays we have had are living in bed and breakfast places … We use wheretostay.co.za

    The country is a crafters haven. You should find plenty of groups if you look …

    As for the wine …

    Hope this helps you ease in.

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    • Thank you! I have only been here a week and already I am wondering how I will be able to leave πŸ™‚ So far I absolutely love it (although I realise I am still in the honeymoon period where everything is great and I know there will be frustrations ahead…..). I have today been to Checkers for a shop and tomorrow or Friday am planning a trip to Woolworths so will look out for the yoghurt and crema balsamica. I am pretty sure we won’t go hungry here πŸ™‚ I think our biggest problem is finding the time to do all the things we want to. Will have a look at that website, thank you for that. And yes the wine…..

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