Joburg Expat: Africa, Here We Come!

August 15, 2016

Africa, Here We Come!

I'm so excited, I don't even know how to start this blog post.

The reason I'm excited is that after 3 years and 7 months, I'll be treading on African soil once again. Tomorrow I'll be embarking on the first leg of a long flight to Johannesburg.

Johannesburg, people! I can hardly wait. I have a hard time imagining how it'll feel. Will everything look as new and intriguing as it did when I first arrived in September 2009? Or will it seem familiar?

The very first picture I ever took in South Africa: the entrance of Dainfern estate in Johannesburg

Either way, I plan to soak it all up like the thirsty African soil after a long dry winter. I can't wait for any of these firsts:

  • Hearing the first "Eish!" being spoken.
  • Glimpsing the Johannesburg skyline for the first time when driving in from OR Tambo
  • Driving by a phalanx of street vendors and taking in what they're hawking these days
  • Having a salesperson return change to me by extending one arm and touching their other hand to that forearm in that most graceful African gesture
  • A minibus squeezing into the impossibly small gap in front of us
  • Catching a glimpse of the glorious Magaliesberg to the North of Johannesburg in the wintry haze
  • Hearing the first screech of a hadeda
  • A parking guard smiling into my window
  • Touching the first Cape berry in the produce section of Woolies
  • Even - gasp! - a broken robot.


Seriously, it's true. Even the tiniest memory of  our Joburg days makes me nostalgic. It's the power of The Rose-Tinted Glasses of Hindsight. We Americans like to grumble about our crumbling infrastructure, but it was 3 years and 6.5 months that I went without seeing a single broken traffic light after moving back to the U.S. Just two weeks ago, I came upon a busy intersection where the light was blinking red. Everyone was confused and very gingerly made attempts to get across. I was elated. I was overjoyed. "A broken robot!" I shouted, much to my daughter's consternation whose friend gave me a very puzzled look.

You'll agree that I'm dire need of my Africa fix.

But what, my dear friends, should I make of my one full day in Johannesburg?

I doubt that I'll be sleeping for a single second. I'll be running around with a notepad all day making sure nothing, absolutely NOTHING escapes me that I might blog about, and I'll be up every night jotting it all down and sorting pictures. Maybe this will be a good opportunity to sample all of Joburg's new coffee shops I've been reading about.

I wonder if it'll feel like picking up exactly where we left it off in December of 2012 when we said Goodbye Africa.

I cannot wait for any of it.

Oh, and what will I be doing in Africa? More on that in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!

Nelson Mandela towering over me, September 2009,
Mandela Square, Sandton, Johannesburg