Dispatch from the Heart of Darkeness

I know. I know. I just disappeared into the heart of darkness.

I am sorry but the truth is the change in perspective caused by my being here for an extended length of time, instead of just visiting, has changed my priorities.  Since returning to Africa, I’ve spend less time exploring and more time trying to get my new life up and running.  It is harder than it sounds. But I am making progress.

We have not traveled at all and in fact we spend our weekends doing dull pedestrian things like taking a class for my professional development, buying cheap, put-it-together-yourself furniture so I will have a workspace and waiting for better weather.

Spring has Sprung

It is early spring here.  The trees are showing that pale new green color.  The birds are nesting and the weather is unsettled.  We’ve had cold, windy days, violent thunderstorms and hail.

While I am glad it is spring, I notice the change of season here lacks the emotional charge of spring back home. Instead of the thrill of the first daffodils, spring is heralded by these purple things.  They smell nice but I don’t know what they are.

Spring back home also means yard work and here I have no yard. I live in the sky. I am like Repunzel, locked in my high tower watching the world go by below.

Inside my tower

The View from Repunzel-ville

And what a busy and NOISY world it is!

Every day, including Saturday, dump trucks full of dirt and boulders roll down the hill outside the apartment. Up to 17 in an hour! I counted.

Three or four times each day a water truck washes down the street.

There are also the daily treks of the children from the daycare down the street to the church next door. I find this entertaining but I do not find it quiet.


And that is just the day time. At night, down the road, just out of sight, they are working all night with a jackhammer and a loud crew of talkative men.

At least once a week a very impressive burglar alarm goes off emitting at least three different very alarming tones.  Eventually someone turns it off. I doubt the police come any more, if they ever did.

What to Do with This Spring

As spring springs I find myself getting restless.  It is hard to watch the weather warm and the land blossom from Rapunzel-ville.  I want to be outdoors.  Getting out is possible but it takes some figuring out. I definitely can’t do it alone.

Outdoor activities here: hiking, bike riding, are usually done in large groups. Whether that is for safety from animals, criminals or political activist, I can’t say.  All I know is, I need to find a group.  There is a hiking group, the Johannesburg Hiking Club. I looked into it, but I discovered that to hike with the club I have to meet up with the group at 7:45am on a Sunday morning, climb into some stranger’s car and be gone until evening.

As it turned out, this all day solo adventure (Steve is working) requires more courage than I have. My intentions were good but the weekend dawned cold and rainy and  the guide book description of the hiking club’s planned destination, the Tswaing Meteorite Crater, as a “a ½ mile wide meteorite crater with a brackish lake on its floor and minimal facilities”, was enough to dissuade me. Apparently, there is a limit to my adventurous spirit.

Since Steve can only get away for a few hours at a time we spend much of our time eating. We eat a lot of good food here but I am going to spare you the foodie details.  You get plenty of that on Facebook.

Since my failure to be brave and independent, another weekend has come and gone and once again we did not take full advantage.  We did spend a few hours on “Zoo Lake” an urban park in the center of the city.  We rented a row boat and maneuvered our way around the crowded lake.  There was little indication that the other rowers on the lake had any experience rowing so it was a little like a watery experience of bumper cars but a nice break from Rapunzel-ville.

Incompetent rowers on Zoo Lake

Dull as this post is, I beg you not to despair.  Next weekend we are driving out of Jo’burg to Kruger National park to do a weekend of true African safaris. (This is scheduled time off, so hopefully Steve will not be required to work)  Kruger Park is a must do in South Africa and I can hardly wait.  The goal is to see the “Big Five”: lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros.

The members of the Big Five were chosen for the difficulty in hunting them and the degree of danger involved, I suspect that means hunting them on foot with guns not from the back of a covered jeep with cameras although… this is Africa, there is danger everywhere.

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8 Responses to Dispatch from the Heart of Darkeness

  1. Linda says:

    Dana – tried your old email without success a while back. I’ve been enjoying your blogs – there is a book here, aside from your coaching book. Best wishes! Stay safe.

  2. Jeanette says:

    Wonderful even in its lack of excitement. You bring your experience, all of it, to life with your blog posts, Dana. Keep it up! I love every word.

  3. Toni says:

    I reassure you, the absence of “activity” is also part of the experience! Absolutely! Look at the senses you have engaged in knowing the immediate space around you. Live in each moment. Reconnect with yourself in quiet ones, if you have any, and learn to focus on what you are! In this moment! Absorb your surroundings and it’s features, including the common people, birds, insects, the soils. I know Kruger will be fantastic, even if you see few animals that you expect to. You will learn about the habitat in which they live and appreciate that you are note really the ” top” of the food chain. I am envious of your experiences. Plz send more stories.

  4. Oh my Dana!! I thought Calle del Grillo was a lot to get used to. I confess that Mark and were so glad when Ruta 7 no longer traversed our street. The apartment looks really nice. When we first moved to Zacatecas, for a long time I felt like I was floating.
    After reading of your timidity about going out alone, I appreciate that I felt safe to venture out solo. My knowledge of you is that you have always found your way and will. Do you know the poetry of Antonio Machado?
    “Todo pasa y todo queda,
    pero lo nuestro es pasar,
    pasar haciendo caminos,
    caminos sobre el mar.


    Caminante, son tus huellas
    el camino y nada mas,
    caminante, no hay camino
    se hace camino al andar.

    I bet you didn’t expect to get Spanish poetry when you blogged.
    So glad you have Spanish.

    Big hugs to you and Steve!

  5. I forgot to reread that before posting…hope it isn’t too confusing. Ruta 7 is the bus route. And that was “to venture out solo” here in Z.
    Have a wonderful time on your adventure to the Park.

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