Sure, I love traveling, meeting new people, discovering new cultures and all of that. In fact, if you had asked me about a month ago if I missed South Africa, I probably would have said no. I wrote my second blog post thinking “I am never coming back” but the closer we get to the festive season, the more I realize home is the only place I’d rather be.
I have plans to travel to many places and no place to ever go back and settle in South Africa. However, nine months away from home has made me realize that there truly is no place like home. As a way to combat my homesickness, I decided to write this post about things I and probably a lot of other expats South Africans miss about South Africa. Here it is:
1. The people
We are truly a unique bunch; The blacks, whites, coloreds, Indians or even “my friend” (often used to refer to Somalians who own shops) everyone is amazing and amusing. You walk into a shop and start chatting with the lady you just met like you’ve known them forever. Leaving your home alone and never feeling alone because you will have human interactions throughout the day.
2. The atmosphere
With the people comes the most fantastic atmosphere everywhere! Where in the world do you see people who make protests seem fun? Check this video that looks more like a celebration than an actual protest. South Africans no how to have fun, we create the happiest atmosphere everywhere, be it a soccer match, a simple chill session, even in funerals. Hell! We don’t need a reason to throw a party, just drive your car to an open area, play music loud, next thing you know, it’s a full-blown unorganized party.
3. The languages
I’m not merely talking about the eleven official languages; I’m talking about some of the languages we create ourselves. How we mix multiple languages yet still understand each other uya-understand(a)?
4. The diversity
With the people and the languages comes diversity. I miss seeing people from different backgrounds, cultures, and races connect and party together. One of the worst feelings about living in a homogeneous country is getting into the train and feeling all eyes on you and also feeling you’re the only one whose “different.” Today I even miss the gossip ladies on my morning commutes.
5. The food
I don’t know how many times I’ve complained about eating rice every day. I’ve even told people that when I go home I’ll definitely not eat rice, pork, chicken, and seafood. Yes, they are nice, but when you eat them too much, then you stop liking them. I miss pap and milk a.k.a umphokoqo, chakalaka, samp and beans, lamb, etc. I miss having a variety that doesn’t include rice.
6. Biltong and wine
Speaking of food, I don’t like calling biltong food because it’s a special kind of snack. It is a delicacy. I miss biltong whether homemade or bought from a butchery. I can’t leave wine out of it, South African wine is the best. I’m not a drinker but now and then I like to spoil myself to a glass of good wine, and in South Africa, we have an endless supply of good wine.
7. Simba chips
They say you never know what you have until it’s gone *tear drop. A casual walk to a local spaza shop or a road trip with friends or that snack drawer at work isn’t complete without a packet of Simba chips as a snack. Yes, you can get them in various countries, but if you live in a country like South Korea, then you have to look a little bit harder. I haven’t found them here yet.
8. The prices
South Africa is not the cheapest country, but when I lived in there, I knew that groceries for R2000 would last me at least a month or close enough. I can’t say the same now, I spend the same amount of money on food for only two weeks, so it’s almost double for a month. I never thought I’d be paying over R100 for a tube of Sensodyne but in Korea, nearly everything imported is likely to cost you an arm and a leg.
9. The weather
We don’t have the best weather in the world, but it is nothing dreadful. You’re guaranteed surfing throughout the year. A lot of tourists from extremely cold continents like Europe and North America often wear shorts and t-shirts during winter in South Africa. Winters are not unbearable, and summers are pleasant (unless you live in the northern provinces).
I had to save the best for the last. Take the diverse people and their different languages and bring them to a braai and make sure there is loud music to with it then you have the most amazing, mind-blowing vibe in the world.
There is no place like South Africa, and I’m proud to call it home.