Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Hear Laughter in the Rain

This past weekend we visited Durban. Durban is located on the east coast in the province of KwaZulu Natal. Known for its sub-tropical climate and lovely beaches, Durban is also the largest and busiest shipping terminal on the continent. 
The advice we received from locals was not to visit Cape Town in the winter as it's cold and rainy. You will remember that we did visit Cape Town back in May but took a day trip to the 
Cape of Good Hope leaving the cold gale force winds behind in Cape Town. Durban, however is supposed to be hot and sunny pretty much all year long.

Two weeks ago we looked at the Durban weather forecast and noticed that among the plethora of sunny and mid 70 degree temperature days ahead were a few days of cooler weather and rain. Those were the very days we would be visiting. We laughed at the audacity of weather forecasters thinking they could predict weather two weeks in advance. 

Shortly after we arrived in Durban on Friday afternoon it began to rain heavily and soon after that the power went out due to load shedding. By evening the power was back on but when we went to dinner it pouring so hard that we had to take Uber instead of walking even though our hotel was just a few blocks away.

Despite the rain, Durban was lovely. It is much greener than Joburg with lots of sugar cane fields and rolling hills. Of course the main reason to visit is to see the Indian Ocean.  My photography teacher said you can take the best photos when the light is low due to clouds or time of day. So there's that consolation.
Our hotel must have had a lot of cancellations because instead of getting a regular room when we checked in, we ended up getting a fancy apartment. It had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and deck with a pool and braai. Unfortunately we didn't have a car to go and buy any meat to braai. We also didn't have any friends to invite to stay in our extra bedroom but it was still very lovely to have so much space. 


We made the most of our weekend by visiting the spa and watching the rugby game in the bar. During the game there were loads of South African fans who came out of the wood work to watch. It seemed like the hotel was pretty empty except for during the game the bar got so crowded that the staff had to bring in banquet chairs for people to sit. Sadly SA lost to New Zealand. We had little insight into what was going on but cheered when everyone else did in order to get into the spirit.

At the hotel we spotted a monkey in a tree. He looked very innocent munching leaves but we knew at any time he could come down and try to steal something.
Sunday it cleared up right before we left for the airport. It was at this point that Mr. Deep put his toe into the Indian Ocean for the very first time. You will remember he wasn't with us when we visited Cape L'Agulhas.  


Thursday, July 23, 2015


If you are a vegetarian, you might want to skip this post. I fear that if you read it one of two things might happen. First, you might be grossed out or offended and vow never to read this blog again. Second, you might decide you must eat some meat right away, run out and have a steak, and then blame me for your tumble off the wagon.  Read on at your own risk.

One of the things Mr. Deep was very excited about when he learned we would be living in Africa was all of the exotic game he would be able to taste. Mr. Deep loves to take his "rightful place at the top of the food chain." Yes, I am quoting him.

When I say exotic game I mean meats like eland, kudu, springbok and such but it turns out that you can't buy exotic game in the regular grocery stores. I have heard that you can order it from certain butchers and meat stores so I will have to look into that.  In the meantime, several people told us about the Carnivore Restaurant and we booked a Sunday lunch there. By the way, how cool is Sunday lunch? You plan it for right in the middle of the day and you make eating the focal point of your day. Just like my favorite day of all time, American Thanksgiving. Brilliant.

Similar to Thanksgiving, you have to employ an eating strategy when you dine at Carnivore. You can't fill up on bread, soup and salad. There were a few Thanksgiving holidays where I didn't save enough room to eat adequate amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing and believe me I have learned from my mistakes.

At Carnivore, they started us off with a pumpkin soup and honey bread which I only tasted. Next, came a tray of all different kinds of salads and sauces to go with the meat. The staff pointed out which sauce was for which meat but it all happened so fast that I really couldn't remember the pairings. Luckily I don't think any harm comes to you if you put eland sauce on pork.

Because I had a plan to save room for meat, I only had a little of the green salad, the tomato salad and the zucchini salad. I have to eat salad because I was taught by my mom that salad is a critical element to a healthy diet and you must eat it frequently.

The waiters then came around with all kinds of meats on giant swords. If you want what they are offering they used another sword to cut a piece onto your plate.

This is called pap. It's made from corn and is similar to grits. It is a staple part of the diet of many South Africans. I thought it was kind of bland but the sauce of onions and tomatoes that goes top makes it taste really good. 
I think the sauce is called "train smash." 
Below is the menu showing all the meats they offered the day we were there. I tried all but the crocodile. I would have tried it but my plate was full when they came around and then Mr. Deep said it had a lot of bones so I didn't bother. Oh and no chicken livers for me. I am not a fan of liver. Venison I believe refers to any kind of deer such as kudu, antelope, etc.

The crocodile

Waiters working the braai (grill)
A few important safety tips you should know if you visit Carnivore. One, give your firearms to the manager to hold while you eat. Two, watch out for swords. 

When you can eat no more you lower the flag on your table in surrender
Yes, Carnivore was a little hokey and Disney like but the food was good and it was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Most importantly we got to try a bunch of unusual meats like zebra and impala.  If you live in the Joburg area and if you have meat eating guests come to visit I definitely recommend Carnivore for a fun dining experience.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Random Things

There are many things that I love about this country, but there are three small things which could go almost unnoticed that I want to share with you today. These three things have nothing to do with each other and each one alone isn't worthy of a whole dedicated blog post so I decided to lump these guys together and discuss. 

First, izzit. I wrote about izzit and other South African words in a past post, but I am only recently realizing the genius of this word. The beauty of izzit is that you don't have to have to offer an opinion, a comment, a care or a deep thought about what another person has said. You can just reply izzit. By saying izzit you also don't indicate whether or not you agree or disagree with what has been said. Izzit, I have noticed, can be used interchangeably when you are fascinating by something someone has said and when you could care less.

People here seem very polite so I am not saying that others are using izzit in this way. Or maybe they are and I have just cracked a secret South African language code. To me, it seems you could use izzit in when you are thinking any of the following in response to what someone else has just said.

I don't care
Please stop talking
Please stop bragging
I disagree
You're an idiot

Or, you could say it if you are thinking
That's wonderful
How exciting
Tell me more
I had no idea
I'm intrigued
Please go on

Second, shoe less kids. Of course I am not talking about kids who can't afford shoes, that is sad and certainly not something to love. I am referring to young kids, usually age ten and under, who have shoes but choose not to wear them when they are out with their parents at the mall, in the grocery store, walking through a parking lot, etc. Why do I love this so much?  Well, although I am not a podiatrist, I am not sure that all of this shoe wearing is good for our feet. I base this opinion on no evidence and no knowledge, like I do many of my opinions. It's just a feeling I have. Also, I didn't wear shoes a lot when I was growing up. I could walk on our gravel driveway without pain which seemed like a badge of toughness of which I was very proud. The main reason I love shoe less kids though is I think some parents over exaggerate potential dangers and that many kids are not going to be prepared for the zillions of curve balls that life is going to hurl at them at maximum speed. Since I'm not a parent I can promise you that no parent is interested in my thoughts on child rearing and since I don't know what it's like to be responsible for keeping a small person alive day in and day out, it's probably best that no one follow my advice anyway. But, I just know that shoe less kids in the mall is a sign of something good. It means that at some point, a parent and child agreed that the risk of walking through the mall without shoes really isn't all that great and that if you step on broken glass, or get a bad fungal infection, the situation will be handled and you likely won't die. It's throwing the caution to the wind, it's a small and quiet rebellion against shoes and I love it.

And finally I love that when you order coffee or tea in a restaurant this great land it comes with a cookie on the saucer, or, as the cookie is called here, a biscuit. First of all, I love a saucer. It's so much nicer to drink out of a cup and saucer than it is a mug. I love the little clinking noise you hear when you are setting your cup down. How civilized! And to have a rich little butter cookie carefully balanced on that saucer, as a free bonus, you just can't beat it. Of course you don't have to eat the cookie and you might not want to especially if you ordered the tea or coffee to go with your meal. But that little crumbly fella just looks up at you and he looks so cute and yummy that you just can't help but pop him into your mouth in one bite. I just love that. 

No I don't have any pictures of shoe less kids at the mall. As relaxed as parents might be about certain things, I am pretty sure no one wants me following their small children around while snapping pics of their feet with my phone. 
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15th

Today marks the one year anniversary since the potential of Mr. Deep taking a job in South Africa was first mentioned.

I remember when I heard about it I was in my office in White Plains, NY, probably about to jump on a conference call when I got a text from Mr. Deep. He said an opportunity had come up within his company and that we would discuss it that night at home. I was surprised that he was being so vague about the whole thing. I had told him a bunch of times that I was very interested in moving if he felt the right work option came along for him. What was there to discuss? Call the moving company!

I did what people often do when they only have a piece of information. I filled in the blanks. I figured there was something about this that was making him hesitate. Maybe he didn't think it was the right job for him. Or maybe it meant moving within the U.S. to a place that he didn't think I'd be particularly excited about. Like a city that has a big arch in it. Or maybe he was just trying to do what you're supposed to do when you're married, make decisions together. 

I never ever imagined South Africa.

When I got home he told me.

"Cape Town?" I said excitedly. Not knowing anything about Cape Town except it's supposed to be very beautiful and they have vineyards there. 

"No, Johannesburg." Nothing came to mind so we starting googling it. Not a great topic to research if you want to get excited about a relocation. 

Crime and violence.

Then I remembered, Oscar Pistorius. Although he he didn't live in Johannesburg, he did live in South Africa. Didn't he claim that he shot his girlfriend because he thought she was an intruder? I remember a reporter on TV saying that the crime rate was so high in the country and there were so many break ins that it seemed like a plausible defense.  What?

We then tried to figure out how bad the crime was. I can't remember our exact formula but in reviewing it now I think our data was flawed. We thought we figured out the crime rate in Joburg was similar to that of New Orleans and Detroit. In reviewing now, I think the rates in those places are worse.

So I based my decision on bad data and fun memories of Bourbon Street.

"I'd totally move to New Orleans, " I said.

And so it was a yes for me. 

Mr. Deep still gave it quite a bit of time before he officially threw his hat in the ring. Maybe he was waiting to see if I'd have a freak out and change my mind. Maybe he was waiting to see if he'd change his. 

And here we are.  Happy Anniversary! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

An Interesting Perspective

When it comes to matters of politics and current events in South Africa, I spend a lot of time eavesdropping on other people's conversations, reading articles, and trying to understand the varying opinions of the locals. 

So what do people who are from South Africa think? What do they think about the current challenges the country is facing? And what do they think about the past?  The answer is (of course) that there are as many opinions, thoughts and viewpoints as there are people. As Facebook taught us, sometimes it's best to use the phrase it's complicated.

I recently read two articles written by a South African man named Trevor Kleinhans. Trevor is an author and a professional speaker. He has lived a fascinating life and because of his personal history, Trevor believes in being very, very honest. I encourage you to check out his website so you can learn more about Trevor and view his videos. You can order his book on Amazon as well. I look forward to reading it in the near future. Trevor's website is and you can follow him on twitter @secretsmakeusic

We can never know what all South Africans think, but we can know what Trevor thinks and I am sure you will agree what he thinks is quite interesting as are the reader comments that follow both articles. 

I learned a great deal from reading Trevor's thoughts and I appreciate his candid opinions about the state of affairs in South Africa. In the first article, he writes about many of the issues that are currently of concern to people here. In the second, he gives some background about his personal history and how he came to form his opinions. 

In the U.S. many people have strong beliefs about what path the country should take, or who is responsible for our troubles. Mix these thoughts with passion and love for the country and it can get very heated. It's no different here. 

I look forward to sharing the thoughts of various South African citizens with you over the course of this blog. Here are the links to Trevor's articles:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Case of the Stolen Sunglasses

This post isn't going to read like a Nancy Drew mystery novel because this is an open and shut case. No investigation is required. My sunglasses were taken in broad daylight and there were numerous witnesses to the crime. 

Yes, I was the victim of a  pick-pocketing. My sunglasses were stolen right out of the front pocket of my pants, Before I could react the Artful Dodger had run off with the goods. I got a good look at the perpetrator. He looks like this.

The good news is that my sunglasses were returned to me. The bad news is they now look like this.

The crime occurred at a place called Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary located in Hartbeespoort in the North West Province about 45 minutes from our home.  

There were numerous written and verbal warnings advising visitors to hang tight to belongings. Mr. Deep was horrified that my glasses were stolen within five minutes of starting our tour.

The primates who live in the sanctuary are former pets or were bred for the pet trade. The sanctuary allows them to live in the wild enjoying waterfalls, trees and nature. There is a fence around the perimeter but the monkeys can roam all through the preserve. The tours are one hour long for small groups and are led by a very knowledgeable guide. Our guide told us that often people have monkeys as pets, then the monkeys start to misbehave, the people can't handle them anymore and they wind up here. 

Squirrel, spider and capuchin monkeys as well as lemurs live in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is really beautiful to walk through. We walked through on an elevated deck like path.

There is something called the bridge of courage which Mr. Deep said reminded him of Indiana Jones. As you are walking through the area the monkeys are all around you and, in some cases, on you!

Mr. Deep about to cross the bridge of courage. It really wasn't scary. It just shakes a lot.

I'm cute but I steal things
A monkey climbing up Mr. Deep

Yes he has a monkey on his back and yes the monkey is trying to unzip our camera bag.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Miss Wilson

Certainly there are many people from back home that I miss spending time with. But last week, I was really missing Wilson. 

Wilson was my personal trainer at New York Sports Club in Scarsdale, NY for the year before we moved to South Africa. I worked with him religiously once a week. He also offered a few small group circuit training classes which I joined as well. Maybe I am a deranged narcissist, but I am pretty sure I was one of Wilson's favorite, if not his all time most favorite client. First, I never cancelled my appointments with him, second I always gave 100% and third I was amusing because I would often fall over during any exercise that involved balance.

I started thinking about Wilson because I ended up signing up for personal training at my new gym.

I hadn't planned to sign up for personal training here. I didn't see the need to spend the money since I am now fully versed in how to kick my own ass thanks to all that time spent with Wilson. Also, I have more time to take the classes offered at the gym than I did in the past and the classes are a good way to push myself as well as a way to meet new people. 

The other day I was leaving the gym, and was approached by some employees who asked if I wanted to purchase three personal training sessions for R500. If I purchased, I would then get three additional sessions free. Since you can't beat the deal of six sessions for R500, I figured why not and signed up.

It then took an hour to get everything set up because we couldn't login to my gym account online. I finally remembered that was because originally the gym staff entered my birth year as 1978 instead of 1970. I had decided not to bother correcting this minor error because it's not every day that you can magically become eight years younger.  

When I showed up two days later for my training session, no one at the gym had any idea what I was talking about. I knew this was going to happen because when we agreed on the date and time, no one wrote anything down or put anything into the computer. 

I had been told to ask for Tom. The ladies at the front desk said Tom was new and then had a whole discussion about whether Tom was Indian or white. Turns out that debate couldn't be settled because Tom wasn't there. This is when I first started to miss Wilson. Wilson was always there just waiting to work with me. He put my appointments into his phone and he was consistently excited to get started even when I knew he had been training people one after the other for hours. 

The ladies at the desk called David, one of the guys who originally signed me up. He showed up and said he remembered me but I could tell from his blank stare that he did not. All I could think about was the Seinfeld episode when Jerry had a rental car reservation but the rental agency didn't hold the reservation and gave away his car. 

Jerry: I don't understand. Do you have my reservation?
Rental Car Agent: We have your reservation, we just ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I think I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don't think you do. You see, you know how to *take* the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation. And that's really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.

It all worked out because they found a guy named Jeffred to train me. I guess he drew the short straw down in the break room where the trainers probably hang out. Jeffred put me on the treadmill for a warm up (just like my sweet Wilson used to do) and then he disappeared. I really started missing Wilson again when I was still running after 20 minutes. Wilson would have never had me warm up for longer than ten. I could see Jeffred across the gym chatting with some woman. Maybe he had said something like "warm up and when you feel warm come on over" and I had just missed it? Or maybe he forgot about me? Or maybe he was being passive aggressive because I got dumped on him by David and Tom? Maybe it was an endurance test to see how long I could run? Anyway, I finally went over to him and we got started with the training.

The good news is the training was great. Wilson used to have me do three exercises in a row for 15 reps and then repeat two more times for a total of three times. Jeffred had me do various exercises for 20 reps each but then did not repeat. Good news if you are doing something that you hate that know you are not going to have to do it again.  

I then started thinking about Wilson and all the funny things he used to say during training. The most hilarious was "how does that feel?" to which I always wanted to answer "how the *(&%$! do you think it feels?" Wilson always used to say "the last set is the best set" which is completely not true and also would say things like "I thought you loved push ups/pull ups/mountain climbers?" His words of encouragement were "come on, you got this you're strong." 

I will be seeing Jeffred again next week. I know he remembers because I saw him the next day and he mentioned it.  He seemed enthusiastic about it, like he was already plotting new and exciting ways to torture me.  And I reconnected with Wilson on LinkedIn and we had a nice chat. He is getting married in September, and was surprised to hear that Jeffred does not feel the last set is the best set.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

4x4 Adventures

One of the hardest parts of preparing to move to South Africa, for Mr. Deep, was having to give up his beloved Jeep Grand Cherokee. The vehicle was only about a year old and was beautiful and luxurious while at the same time rugged and tough. I guess Mr. Deep loves his cars for the same qualities that he finds so attractive in his wife. 

There was no way we could bring the Jeep with us as here we drive on the left hand side. Even though the Jeep went to a good home, it was still sad and hard to say goodbye.

The last day with the old Jeep
Mr. Deep decided that the best way to ease his heartache would be to begin researching his Africa Jeep purchase. Before we even left the U.S., he decided to leave luxury and style behind and go full on rough and tumble.

I have to give a little pat on the back to myself here and say that I was and remain fully supportive of this plan. Mr. Deep does not spend a lot of money on himself. If he comes into some extra money his big excitement is deciding which bank to deposit it into. Also, I figured what better place to own a 4x4 vehicle then in Africa? 

Soon after we arrived, he purchased a used Jeep Rubicon. 

He then set to work transforming the Jeep into an off-road machine. For those of you in the know on such matters, here were the upgrades. He added an AEV 2.5" suspension kit, 33" Cooper STT tires, advanced rear and front steel bumpers, tail light guards and a Smitty Bilt 12,000 lb winch. He is also planning to add a snorkel and a supercharger to the engine. I have no idea what any of this means.  

The Rubicon comes standard with front and rear locking differentials. I also have no idea what this means. Maybe it means something like positraction from My Cousin Vinny? Mr. Deep says these little pieces of equipment were key to our off-roading success.

Here are some before and after pictures showing the modifications. 


Last weekend we went out on our first 4x4 adventure.  For this first effort we chose a place called the Hobby Park. I find the name Hobby Park kind of funny because to me a hobby sounds like you are assembling model airplanes. This type of park was for motocross riding, paintball and off-roading.

The Hobby Park was a good choice because they have all kinds of trails and obstacles there but yet you are not out in the wilderness where you could roll off a cliff and be left for a pack of wild dogs to find. 

I enjoyed the off-roading. The only negative for me was that it was a little nauseating bouncing around so much. I did get out a few times to take photos and to help scope out the trail.

At one point, we were driving up a really steep and rocky hill. It took a few tries to get up and while we were trying, one of the tires slipped. A few guys were standing on a cliff above watching us. When we got back to the main gate, the guy in charge said he heard from these guys that we almost rolled over. I thought that was really funny. Imagine those guys watching us being so dramatic. I told Mr. Deep I thought this and he informed me that we did almost roll over. Hmmm, suddenly not so funny.

We came out of the day unscathed except for a few scratches on the Jeep which really are just battle scars to show that we are the real deal. 

Oh and if you're wondering what in the world one wears to go 4x4ing, camouflage of course!

About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.