Taking Stock of Our First Six Months in South Africa – Patience, Gratitude, and a Bit of Potty Talk

As the date of our first home leave is drawing close, I feel compelled to reflect on our time here so far. It always amazes me how fast you DO end up settling into a new routine, which, all things considered, isn’t much different from your old routine. It’s just that in-between stage that is so unsettling, where you gather documents like crazy, set up new accounts, find new places to shop at and people to be friends with. So it is not surprising, reading  back over my blog so far, that I seem to have engaged in a disproportionate amount of griping, to put it mildly, about all the things that have gone wrong or inconvenienced me in one way or another. To the uninitiated, it may sound like South Africa has the worst bureaucracy (it does) and that there are power, water, and phone outages every day (there aren’t). But let me now tell you about all the things South Africa has going for it.

Friendliness: You won’t spend a day here where you won’t be greeted by dozens of strangers with a wide and sunny grin. They all seem genuinely happy to see you. Just going in and out of our security gate every day earns me happy waves all around, from people with fairly monotonous jobs ...