What They Don’t Tell You

I have had a fantastic weekend in Beijing to see one of the best humans I know. This is enough to keep you happy, right? We explored the ancient hutons, ate amazing dumplngs, danced the night away and caught up. This should be enough to keep me happy.

But something happened.

When I was back in my apartment. Alone. Missing familiar faces. Receiving a cold text. After hearing my mother’s voice on the phone, chatting to my nephews, missing eating breakfast with my family after arguing about who will make it.

I broke down.

What we show you about our expat lives is always about the fun and exciting. Always about discovering new amazing foods, exploring the landscapes and meeting amazing new people. But, we are almost too ashamed to tell the world, to tell our families and friends that we are missing them incredibly that you find yourself pacing up and down your apartment trying to breathe. I had never had a panic attack before. I wish someone had told me that it feels like someone is squeezing your heart and you cannot breathe. Then you have insane thoughts – I can’t die here, I am 11 000 km away from my family. Then the thought of death just makes the entire situation spiral.

What they don’t tell you is that sometimes, amidst all of the amazing adventure, you will sorely miss familiar foods, familiar faces and familiar landscapes.

You will break down.

But, this will make you stronger. You will regroup then think about the mission and purpose. The reason why you opted for this lifestyle. You will have a cup of tea and appreciate the little things all over again.

It happens. It happens to everyone.

With love, x

Roadtrippin’ to a New Year..

I have been procrastinating a lot lately. I’ve been on a two week break and I have been the best sloth yet. No, really. I didn’t know what date it was until it was Christmas then again on New Year’s Eve. It was incredibly beautiful to just be with my family (my mother and sisters, in particular). I pretty much tried to avoid shopping malls and people, in general. Where do ALL of these people come from? Surely they all don’t wait for the Christmas break to crawl out of their cocoons. Maybe they do… Who am I to judge?

I don’t quite remember the start of the holidays. I don’t know what I did, or what I got up to. It’s all a bit of a blur. The first night with my mum, I do remember being mauled by silent mosquitoes. You couldn’t see them, hear them but these itchy bumps kept on emerging on my skin. My sister smiled after seeing my horrified face and said, “Ah, they’ve finally got you too, I see.”

With my mind being on holiday mode already, I recall forgetting my handbag in my sister’s car and her driving off with it. There goes my cellphone, car keys, driver’s licence and purse with my money, oh and not forgetting my lip balm (seriously, how do people live without it?). That’s when I realised that I could be quite a write off of an adult. I made it though after a few phone calls off a landline.

I got roped in to going to Sea World with my nephew. The thing is, my family knows I love animals and I hate seeing them enclosed. I am not particularly fond of zoos, circuses and sea world-like places. Somehow though, they always talk me in to family quality time. Who can resist that? It was a fun day in the sun with some Dolphin giggles and splashes. I suppose I am incredibly fortunate to have seen Dolphins in their natural habitat when I was on the Rainbow Warrior in early 2015; happily swimming and splashing about and “chasing” the ship as kids would do.

My kind of holiday means travelling to a new place to meet new faces.

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Open roads, singing along to Green Day and making a couple of stops along the way. Okay, let’s not forget about getting lost for half an hour — driving in the opposite direction of our destination and ending up in the middle of nowhere. That’s all the fun, innit?

We were actually looking for the Nelson Mandela Capture Site (It is on the R103 in Howick, KZN). We found it, eventually 🙂 And, the entrance was f r e e !

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So happy to have ticked that off my list.

Then, next stop: Piggly Wiggly.

Fresh bread, cheese, red onion marmalade, pizza and locally brewed beer! Stunning day to have a gorgeous, fresh pizza (you watch them knead the dough to perfection!) and to people-watch! There are many shops to browse through and many more drinks to try and wine to buy. I didn’t get a chance to find it but I hear there is a Belgian Chocolate Waffle place on the same road; frothing!!

Final stop: The Bend in Nottingham Road. A 148 km drive from Durban. This would be the place I would be saying a slurry “hello 2016″.

It wasn’t a very slurry greeting. It was a stunning one.

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After breakfast and cleaning up, we decided to spend the day at the dam.

After tubing, zenning and making flower head bands in the scorching heat, it was home time.

Of course, the day was not over. I had to visit a dairy farm. I wish I hadn’t though. I watched a cow getting impregnated by a human! No, not that way but syringes and odd appliances were involved. It’s a really dirty job and I wish dairy farms were about lush fields and cows treated like royalty. It was awful and it reinforced my morals; why had become vegetarian. Consuming less dairy and ultimately becoming a vegan (ey, play nice – don’t roll your eyes at me) did cross my mind.

It was a glorious time away. Lord knows, everyone needs to take a break from the city.

This year is going to be a treat despite what the sordid horoscopes read! Ew! This year involves a lot more travel, relocation and a bit more reading. I would say 2015 was quite a splendid year, I would do it all over again.

With love & happiness,

x

Markets. Sushi. Gardens. Family..

What a beautiful weekend filled with laughter, dances, Thai spring rolls, sushi, family braai, a walk with monkeys and Hadeda Ibises and a relaxing Sunday.

I started off the weekend with a catch up at the Musgrave Roof Top Night Market. I have moved away from just eating Falafels. I have discovered amazing Thai Spring Rolls with glass noodles! What?! So. Good.

My Saturday started off quite mellow. I didn’t really want to get out of bed. I did. Otherwise, Nick would have been bleak with me.

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I bought sushi from my local take away spot run by three young Chinese guys who have asked me out on a miso soup dinner date.

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A feast more than a light picnic. Go big or go home, eh?

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We pretty much could not move for a while. All we could do was lie flat on our backs, look at the sky and listen to the birds sing.

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When we had been bitten by enough mosquitos, we decided on a walk around the Botanic Gardens. We have always had this place available to us but we just do not visit it often enough. It is the best picnic spot in Durban. Also, seemingly the place to take wedding photos.

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A walk with Hadedas and monkeys in the heat seemed like the most perfect moment. All life living in harmony.

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After the lazy stroll. It was time to see my family for a late afternoon/evening braai. It is always so lovely to see my cousins. We literally sit outside, have beers and talk utter nonsense. For hours! It is the best!! 🙂

I would not have had this weekend any other way.

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like & celebrating it for everything that is.”

With love, x

Good Samaritan Saturday..

Well, my mother is. I tagged along to help her out. On the 16 May, my mother had her little tea garden stall at a local Flea Market. This was not just any flea market. She was taking part to raise funds for Ningizimu Special School.

Ningizimu is a school for children, up to the age of 18, with special needs. They range from Autistic children with learning disabilities, happy little girls with Down Syndrome, positive kids in wheelchairs. They are all happy, lively young people with a positive outlook! As you may have guessed, this is not a mainstream grade school; however, they learn a range of skills from playing the Marimba and being a part of a steel drum band, pottery classes, sewing & upcycling classes.

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My nephew, the little Picasso that he is, decided to draw me a picture of a…Rhino! Haha! Can you see the horn?! This is adorable. He was extremely proud of it and I could not take it away from him!

I found these amazing upcycled bags made by the learners. These bags could last a lifetime! Why? They are made of old Tyre tubes. Yup! This is thinking out of the box! I am now a proud owner!

The Up-cycled Bags!
The Up-cycled Bags!
I am the Proud Owner of this Bag! :)
I am the Proud Owner of this Bag! 🙂

We were also entertained by a rather impressive marimba band. The students, of course!

What a beautiful Saturday! Well spent. Worth waking up early to set up. We raised some funds for the school! Waahaay!

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Success! We are happy chappies!

So, from now on, I refuse to say, “I can’t…”

Loads of Happy Hearts and Smiles.

With Love,

x

PS: My mother is a teacher at Ningizimu Special School. 

PPS: I bought something else for myself. An old, old suitcase. Then, look inside, to see the label. It used to belong to a friend’s family. To his grandfather, to be precise! Small world!

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Bonding Time with Mum..

This is a beautiful, precious moment. I mean, we used to live together so this was the norm. I have been living with my father for about a year and a half now.

As you get older and have seen special people depart our Earth as we know it, these moments become treasured and priceless.

Mum and I enjoyed a relaxed lunch at Habesha Cafe which is an Ethiopian restaurant in Davenport, Durban.

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This place is lovely and cosy. It gives you a home-y feel. The food is good and reasonably priced for what you get. It make look like it’s not a lot but do not underestimate that bread! It is filling! I honestly could not move after lunch, I just wanted to shut my eyes and fall asleep in a cosy Ethiopian cocoon.

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The bread is made out of maize meal which is called “injera”! An African staple. If you do not know this yet, I am a vegetarian tree-hugger so I opted for the vegetarian options. Split red lentil (“mesir kot”) and an exotic tomato based curry? It was delish. My mother couldn’t say no to meat so she had a lamb kot.

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What’s a lunch date without a selfie??

If you are in Durban and love trying new things, head over to Habesha Cafe or even Cafe Abyssinia which is equally wonderful. If you are anywhere else in the world, just try out new cuisines. It’s one way of broadening horizons without travelling.

With love,

x

Umthatha Roadtrip with the Family..

One of my sisters is getting married at some point in her life. After the many traditional ceremonies. This is the third ceremony. In case you missed the boat, I am Zulu. My sister is set to wed a Xhosa man. Boy, they are not pleased! This is the third traditional affair because we have hosted the Lobola negotiations, we have had the uMembeso ceremony where the groom brought gifts, livestock and an insanely boozy party, and now, we take gifts to the groom’s family.

We awoke at 3 am to leave Durban at 04:30am. With African Timing, we left at 06:00am.

I drove that long distance in my car (the old girl); with my mum, aunt and all three nephews. I went a little mental. I was yearning for a quiet corner after a couple of hours driving.

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Loads of driving, much more road kill (my aunt and I eventually started a tally), copious amounts of laughter and tons more over-taking trucks. It was a weekend to remember. Needless to say, I came back knackered and fell asleep at 19h00.

To many more road trips, love and laughter.

With Love, x

My Furry Friends

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Spooks & the gang 🙂

They are the happiest to see me after a weekend away. They wait eagerly at the gate when I come home late from work, most likely thinking, “gaaah, where is she??”.

When I walk out the house, they think it is play time. Well, it could be, just not all the time.

They are so protective – a random male cannot talk to me without them freaking out! Spooky also does her normal patrol around the house before she lets me in.

They absolutely loathe bath time. But, it needs to be done. They can hate me for the day but, at least they will smell good hating me..

With Love, x

Weekend Special: Day 46 & 47

And maybe a bit about day 45 as well.

Valentine’s Day. I don’t really hate it. I don’t mind it. Just another day really. Don’t feel less loved just because I don’t get chocolate and roses, or sweet texts and phone calls. It was a normal day, really. Work. Go home, hang out. Chill. Sister and I got a bit excited watching Sister Act! I had seen Jenny the night before. To say goodbye. She’s back in Belgium now. It was lovely having her back here, even though I saw her three times in the duration of her stay here because I live in a prison with my dad as the very strict warden. He doesn’t approve of girls driving alone at night. Or, to girls that drink alcohol. Or, that to boys. I don’t think he wants me to leave the house really. The “rebel” that I am though, I just leave. YOLO.

Reunion: Girls having fun..
Reunion: Girls having fun..

Day 46. Saturday. 15 February. The day after sort of feeling, haha! Nothing worth noting.

Day 47. Sunday. Playing nanny and chef de cuisine. I nailed that oxtail! And my mashed potatoes looked and tasted (I would imagine) like something out of Michel Roux’s kitchen. My sister wanted to go out and get all romantic with her fiancĂ©. I offered to babysit. Little did I know that he’d poo like 5 minutes after she leaves. My nephew is going to be 3 months old on Tuesday. I have never gagged so much, nearly vommed on this poor baby. Crap! I swear I think he was having a kick out of it. I am ending the day with a good glass of red wine and winding down to Six Pence None the Richer. I have been feeling rather anxious this weekend. I haven’t finished a single movie that I have started.

The Nephew and I ..
The Nephew and I ..

I have some roller coaster emotions the passed week but I just didn’t have the time to jot everything down. Or the energy. I know what I want, and I am going for it.

x

“If you wanna be somebody, if you wanna go somewhere. You better wake up and pay attention” — Sister Act (1993)

Day 34

Monday. It wasn’t all bad. I was busy so I didn’t keep a watchful eye on the clock.

Nothing much happened today. But, Jenny has arrived in SA!!! We are having a booze cruise (just an excuse to have a cocktail party on a boat) on Sunday. I cannot wait for the weekend, I am frothing! Plus, to make the most of the weekend, I have taken Friday off. February will be my 28 days of happiness.

Problem: Fuel prices are increasing. By the end of the month, petrol might be R16 a litre. Uhm…

Speechless.

I think my father thinks I am a boy. The son he never had (I have four sisters). The first thing he does when I get back from work; he drags me outside to have a look at his new tyres and talk cars. I suppose I am the only one that really listens to him when he talks about such. Tyres, construction, cars.

“Well, I can’t describe her exactly – except to say that she was beautiful. She was – tremendously alive.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

x