African Time is Like Dog Years

African time is like dog years.

Or maybe it’s the reverse if you really did the math correctly. My point is, everything takes about seven times as long as you’re used to if, like most expats, you’ve grown up on a continent with a more mainstream concept of time. Or maybe I should ... 


Perfect Marketplace for Expats:

I’ve told you my story about buying a car in South Africa, in all its glorious (and sometimes embarrassing) detail. I’ve also told you my story about selling the car again, taking place almost three years later, and it provided another welcome opportunity to let you learn from my successes and (as more often than not) mistakes. But what might have saved me a great many words (and almost certainly some money) is a simpler approach: I could have used =&0=&. And no, by that I do not mean that I should have trekked to the village square where business is conducted under a large tree and where goods change hands, although when I first heard of Gumtree I thought that it must have derived its name from exactly such a scenario.

What is Gumtree? is a classifieds website, much like Craigslist in the United States. I’ve since learned that the name was a brainchild of the original founders, who launched the site in 2000 and were looking for a name that might ... 


Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats and Other American Obsessions

As Halloween frenzy was approaching a fever pitch – which it seems to me nowadays starts somewhere in the middle of September – a South African friend of mine who lives here was shaking her head. “I was in my favorite grocery store today,” she said, “and I saw pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin toaster pastries, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin Greek yogurt, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, pumpkin body butter, pumpkin flavored dog treats, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin bar baking mix, pumpkin ale, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin spice chai, pumpkin spice rooibos (that should be illegal), pumpkin butter, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin pancake mix. So what is this obsession with pumpkin here in the USA?” Quite right. Whatever the season, we seem to be obsessed with something. If no major holiday is available, we create a minor one to fill in. That, I think, is the only explanation for Valentine’s Day. To fill the drought between Christmas and Easter. And, I think, just to annoy us parents who are finally, finally, breathing a big sigh of relief because by mid-February all the Halloween candy is gone from the pantry, just to see the empty spot immediately usurped by another almost identical trove of carefully labeled goody bags, just changed in hue from orange and rusty colors to pinks and reds.

In fact, I think I may have given my kids leftover Halloween candy to stick onto their Valentine’s cards. Please don’t judge me too harshly.

Maybe this truly scary pumpkin is enough to cure you of any pumpkin flavored cravings
you might have harbored this harvest season?

The object of our obsession is not really pumpkins. Nor is it holidays in general or even decorating, though I do have to say an urge to decorate ... 


Free Parking

Did I know about all the free parking in Johannesburg, my friend recently asked me over coffee.

No, I did not, I admitted. As I told you in a recent post, I haven’t exactly been a Smart Shopper in terms of going after the free stuff, scant as it is here in South Africa.

My excuse in terms of parking ... 


The Not So Smart Shopper

One of the first items I added to my wallet here in South Africa was a PicknPay’s Smart Shopper card. Soon followed by Woolworth, Dis-Chem, Clicks, and MySchool cards.

It’s no small feat to obtain some of these cards, so that owning them constitutes a victory in and of itself, letting you ... 


Picture Framing in Joburg

I alway feel slightly guilty giving so much voice on Joburg Expat to mishap and inconvenience, to This is Africa moments, to all the various horror stories of my pampered expat existence. It’s just that they are so much more fun to write about than those times where everything goes smoothly.

So ... 


By Special Delivery from America

I was feeling panicky. I was baking muffins, big giant muffins, and what did I see in my cupboard? Or rather, what did I NOT see enough of in my cupboard? Muffin liners. Yikes! Everybody knows that for a proper muffin you need a paper cup, it’s just not the same without one. Plus then you scrub ...