June 29, 2011

Expat Joys - The Sun

I'm not sure of the official tally, but from our experience the sun shines about 359 days a year in Johannesburg. It's definitely one of my greatest joys as an expat here. Even - and especially - in winter, when I'm shivering through the nights, the sun can always be counted on to be up by 7 in the morning. I can see how ancient cultures worshiped the sun, especially at high altitudes, like the Incas. It gets so chilly as soon as the sun is gone that you cannot wait for it to come up again in the morning and the heat gets switched back on.

The sun is so immensely good for our well-being. Sure, you have to protect yourself against its harsh rays particularly here in the Southern Hemisphere and at such high altitude, but I think it has huge benefit for your emotional health. There are even benefits I didn't know about. Did you know that sunlight helps give your kids good eyesight? I just came across this article in the New York Times elaborating on studies that show even kids with myopic parents develop good eyesight if they spend their childhood mostly outside, especially in a sunny climate, whereas children that grow up mostly indoors are much more prone to need glasses.

Just one more reason to turn off the video games and computers and kick your kids out the door. In fact, here in South Africa, our kids seem to go outside more voluntarily, because the temperature is so pleasant year-round (once you get through the cold early morning walk to school), and because all the other kids are outside as well.


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10 comments :

cat said...

You are so correct - we are true sun worshippers. My kids are so frustrated if they can not get out into the sun - tru littel outside people.

Jozie Days said...

Thanks for this post! I agree whole heartedly with you as I look outside on this chilly Joburg morning. The beautiful bright winter sun keeps me going until the spring and then the awesome Gauteng summer thunderstorms! Love it!!!

Ana said...

Thanks so much for the blog Sine! I have enjoyed reading every single post. It has become my favorite thing to do since we found out we'll be moving to Joburg in late July. Originally from Spain and USA, my kids were born in Hong Kong where we have been living for the last 12 years. We are super excited about living in South Africa and I have to give you credit because your blog has triggered great anticipation about our move.
Muchas gracias!

Sine said...

Ana - de nada! Glad you're enjoying the blog and thrilled to hear you're moving here soon. One of my best friends is from Spain with an English husband, I'll have to introduce you. Twelve years in Hong Kong is a long time, I'm sure it will be a bit of an adjustment. We just got back from a trip to Singapore after having lived there 12 years ago and it brought back all my fond memories of Asia. Let me know if I can help you with anything!

Ana said...

Thanks so much Sine!! I'll write again as soon as I arrive!! I'm bringing my paella pan with me so hopefully I can meet you and your Spanish friend in the chilly August around a paella braai!

Sine said...

Now you've just made my mouth water, Ana! You can email me directly at joburgexpat@gmail.com.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

I keep wondering why heat pumps are not more common in SA. So far I have only seen one house for sale that had one. I can't imagine that it would use more electricity than inefficient floor heating.

As to fireplaces, do they import wood or something because SA doesn't have many surplus trees that you would risk cutting down.

Sine said...

No idea where the wood comes from, frankly. When in doubt, perhaps imported from Zimbabwe or something:-)

Good point about heat pumps. Yes, they would be more efficient. I think it is because of that collective amnesia I mention. everyone forgets it ever was winter as soon as it's over and no one can plan ahead when building a house, it seems. Cheaper to just build it flimsy and with no good heating and then huddle in the few winter months. I also think though that it is a legacy from the British - they don't build good houses either from what I remember and have heard. Flimsy just as well, even though you'd think in that climate you would do all you could to build with great insulation.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

So when you say flimsy are you just referring to insulation and the draftiness or are you also talking about structural integrity and materials? It is hard to tell just from photos but your house and the many houses I have been looking at on property24 seem pretty nice at least when it comes to the advertised materials and finishes.

I've heard that the uk and Europe in general have gotten somewhat better in build quality because of the energy efficiency regulations and "green" mandates. I tend to look askance at all the eco friendly stuff we're saddled with nowadays but I don't mind having tighter houses.

Sine said...

I'd say structurally it was sound. More the draftiness of it, big gaps between window and frame, all the power outlets screwed on crooked, etc.