Looking Back on 2014

Lots of stuff happens when you’re an expat. You see new places, you meet new people, and you have plenty to write about.

Then you move back home, and that year is kind of busy too. You pack and unpack household goods until they come out your ears, you get settled in new schools and places of work, and once again you have plenty to write about.

Then comes the year AFTER, and nothing much happens in it at all. You go about your back-home business every day. You order stuff from Amazon, which even after a year of such luxury still gives you a little jolt of pleasure every single time. Ditto for Starbucks and working traffic lights aka robots. You spend a lot of your time with the household chores previously done by your maid during your days of glory as an expat sipping-mojitos-by-the-pool wife, and you spend some more of your time arguing with your husband over why you don’t feel the house needs to be quite as clean as it was during said glory days.

2014 was that year after for us. Not that much of note happened, and so not that much of note is deserving of mention in this reflection of the past year.

One thing, however, IS, and I’ll shamelessly seize the opportunity to put in another plug for it: In March 2014, I published my very first book, Kilimanjaro Diaries. Making up my mind to sit down and finally start writing sometime mid-2013 was actually the biggest biggest hurdle to overcome and doesn’t belong in this year at all, but the part where I finally pushed the “publish to Kindle” button so that people could come rushing to buy it does. It came around the end of March, after countless rounds of conferring with my editor, applying corrections, and proof-reading it until I could no longer stand my own story, and I do admit that it was one of my great moments not just in this year but my entire life. And shortly after that, in May, came another, even better moment, when I held an actual paperback copy in my very own hands. For about 11 hours straight before I could bring myself to let go of it. I also count giving a talk about my book and signing copies of it at Parnassus Books right here in Nashville among the other highlights of this year.

author holding a copy of Kilimanjaro Diaries


Looking toward 2015, I have big plans: Publishing the German translation of Kilimanjaro Diaries in January or February and publishing my second book, the one about a 6-person family traveling through Namibia in a 5-person car (and changing lots and lots of tires) later in the year. I also plan to get started on a third book, the topic of which I won’t reveal just yet. But who knows – I’ll also have to help get our oldest child out the door and into university, and at the rate that project has been going this year, I might very well spend the entire first half of 2015 nagging and sending out deadline reminders.

Finally I thought I’d end this review of 2014 by listing the most popular posts on Joburg Expat this year:

3rd most read post, somewhat surprisingly, in which I compared South Africa and Brazil through the lens of each country’s soccer world cup and and how determined people can achieve great things, even with the deck stacked against them:
From World Cup to World Cup: Soccer, Poverty, and Determination.

2nd most read post
, in which I reflected on first world problems we encounter here in our sheltered and spoiled life, and hopefully gave you a few good laughs:
Coyote Sightings, Ungainly Outhouses, and other First World Problems

1st most read pos
t, with a very boring title but apparently full of good information for fellow expats navigating the intricacies of South African bureaucracy:
How to Register a Car in South Africa

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