I know my friends in America are wondering what I’ve been up to and how I am enjoying my new home, so to give you a glimpse of my experience so far I thought it would be fun to compile a list of five things I’ve learned this week.
1. The country is just as beautiful as you’ve heard
Each day I’m in awe of the beauty around me: the stunning landscape, highways carved into rocky mountains, city lights, wildlife (even if it is just a meerkat), the bright colors of a sunset and glow of a wood burning fire. All of this and I’ve barely left the suburb we are living in. Oh, and Floridians can appreciate this: the humidity here is twenty percent!
2. Thread count sucks
Call it bratty, pretentious, whatever, but I enjoy quality linen. The linens at the house just weren’t cutting it. Three high-end linen/home good stores later and we decided to borrow sheets from my husband’s mom rather than shell out money for the 300 thread count available in stores. Forget your 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. And silk pillowcases? Laughable. Not sure what it is, but linens and towels are just rough here.
3. Vegetarian options are abundant
In a country obsessed with meat and braiing (aka barbecuing). I thought that my newly pescatarian lifestyle (since July) would last for about a day here. Turns out it lasted for seven days, broken by a chicken and mushroom pie. It’s my favorite South African food, and while it was delicious I won’t lie, I felt guilty. It is complicated because I don’t want to miss out on cultural traditions, delicious food and bonding over meals, but I also want to stay true to my own beliefs of what’s healthy and ethical. There happen to be plenty of Indian and Asian restaurants with veg options, and vegetarian dishes are universally marked by a graphical letter “V” on menus and on food items in the grocery store. We’ll see how it goes.
4. Driving is terrifying
Try to think of the polar opposite of driving in Florida and that is what it is like to drive in Joburg. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and you drive on the left side of the road. There are hills and mountains and I don’t think I’ve ever considered using a hand brake until now. Road rage is everywhere and traffic jams are the norm. Ninety-five percent of cars are manual including the one we bought. Look out for my next blog entitled “Watch Nicole stall out on the highway.”
5. South Africans know how to enjoy life
I knew this before I took up residence here but thought it needed to be said. South Africans are known for and proud of their ability to have a hell of a time. Everyone I’ve met has been so friendly and accommodating. Beer and liquor are cheap and there is plenty of it. If that’s not your thing, they are happy to feed you and entertain you with stories and jokes. No one cares that I am American, and not in a bad way, but just in a “now you’re one of us” kind of way.
This country has so much to offer and teach, and I’m looking forward to soaking it all in and sharing it with you all!