I’m Back

People have been wondering what happened to my blog. I did indeed fall off the wagon and I apologize.
Every time someone asks me what happened to my blog, I promise to begin again and then, confronted with explaining why I quit writing and filling in the missing time with my activities over this recent (southern) winter I get overwhelmed. So, I will skip the excuses and just start in again.

The Past

Briefly, I returned to America in April to sell our house in Virginia. Once back in South Africa, I went back to work on my book (a self-coaching guide to starting a new business) with the goal of finishing by August of this year. It is not done yet and now I hope for a date of “early next year”. Good things take time.

The Future

Many people ask me about our retirement plans and I have little new information to add despite all the time that has passed.

Steve has a tentative end date of April of 2015 but hedges his bet by saying, “We will see how things are going.”  The real question we need to answer is not “When?” but “What’s next?” and our thinking on that is still very fluid.

In the News

Oscar’s trial was a long running soap opera and I know people who watched it all, days and days of legal proceedings, on television. They themselves called their interest an addiction.

Oscar is now sentenced to 5 years in a South African prison and generally people are outraged that the sentence isn’t long enough. Apparently in back in 2010 a hip-hop singer from Soweto (a large black township with a complicated Apartheid history) plowed into six high school students while drag racing high on drugs down a narrow city street.  Four of the students died, two were left brain damaged.  At the end of that celebrity trial Jub Jub, as he was called, was sentenced to 10 years for culpable homicide.  According the talk-radio reaction here, racism and its sister, social privilege, played a part in the disparate sentences.

Personally, I don’t think so. The crimes are significantly different, but I am a white person, and a foreigner. My opinion only brands me as a person blinded by my white American privilege. To avoid offering an opinion, I tell them the story of OJ Simpson. In America our black, celebrity athlete got off completely. What does that prove about race and class?  No one knows.  No one changes their opinion.

Social Life

The dynamic of our social life has changed over the winter.  I no longer see much of the young women attached to the young men Steve works with.  The team in general has less of a we-are-all-in-together vibe and more of a this-is-my-life-and-I-need-to-make-it-work attitude.  The young people apparently party less these days as they hover around their 30th birthdays.

Ladies Only Supper Club

Ladies Only Supper Club


Steve’s participation in the choir has given some substance to our activities.  He preforms in concerts about once a month.  His most recent extravaganza in Cape Town justified an entire long weekend away.  While he rehearsed, I took a walking tour of Cape Town’s city center and learned that the building Steve was singing in is the same building where Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of 50,000 people on the day he was released from prison.

The Johannesburg Symphony Choir

The Johannesburg Symphony Choir


Last weekend we joined a group of mostly South Africans for a weekend on the Vaal River.  We canoed a bit, hiked a bit (the weather was stormy) and shared meals with the group which is very much like what we most enjoyed doing at home in Virginia.  The only difference is, we don’t really know these people. I am happy to have recreated a facsimile of my old life but I do miss the long shared history and easy comfort of my old friends.

On the other hand, these new friends correct my mispronunciation of Afrikaans words and answer my many questions about the things I don’t understand about this country and this society. That is good.

I consider it a milestone of expatriate adjustment for me to make local friends. Making local friends requires an effort to step out – and stay out – of my comfort zone.

New faces, same old activities

New faces, same old activities

I also associate with other Americans here.  I find it is more natural for me to be with American. After all we share the same expat experience and I get sympathy for my expat frustrations. With Americans we talk about visa issues, the cultural idiosyncrasies we notice (and judge) and the things we miss: corn tortillas, roast turkey, television movies made post 1989.


The American Society of South Africa

Some of the Americans I know

So, I suppose the reason I haven’t blogged recently is, I have work to do, occasional out of town guest and a full social life. Sounds like I am settled in doesn’t it?

I will close with a still photo video or our travels when the kids were here in late July and August.  July and August is a cold time of year here, but we managed to have a fine trip.  We saw most of the best parts of this country with very few mishaps.

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6 Responses to I’m Back

  1. Holly says:


    This is a great BLOG as usual! The photos are amazing! My movie version of Africa is all jungle, monkeys and endless plains with elephants. I had no idea there were parts of Africa that looked like that. And the photos of the kids together!…What a trip!! The photos of your family are wonderful! I miss you. Talk soon? 🙂

  2. Toni says:

    You and Steve are such adventurous people. I love to hear about your experiences there,

  3. Toni says:

    Please quit working and writing for everyone else so you can be available just to entertain us, your blog fans!

  4. Domenick Dellino says:

    Hi Dana,

    Yes, thanks for sharing… The slide show gives a context that one can’t get any other way…

    Since you mentioned the stormy weather, I was curious about the latitude and found …

    the country lies between latitudes 22° and 35°S

    about the equivalent of northern Mexico and southern California.

    Regarding our biases…it seems—if you take Jub Jub, Oscar, and OJ as significant benchmarks, perhaps the “privilege” is afforded more for class even than race.

    Certainly, time, location, and the cost of the lawyer (well, i guess that’s class) all continue to vary.

    best wishes!

  5. As always, I enjoyed the blog. As you write about ex-pat experiences, I smile as I think of my own. We are in our 17th year here in Zacatecas. We sometimes talk of returning to the US. (We are lucky to be geographically close to our family, although Alaska may be nearly as far as South Africa.) We are back from a visit to Maryland to see Ed, Megan and Molly Marie (15 months). Loved being there and feeling a small tug to return. So we are here still with the intention to stay. We are permanent residents of Mexico now, we have purchased a Honda Fit and will sell the VW camper in the spring. We will continue our explorations of this wonderful country, using Airbnb instead of camping. Abrazos coming your and Steve’s way. When one thinks about it, in the scale of the Universe, we are close neighbors.

  6. Mark Dunn says:

    Thank you for the update! With more familiarity with SA must come comfort and the ability to spend time on things other than living basics like filling us in on the blog. Particularly like the photos, geography and people! If and when Steve ever retires what will he do? Would you believe I have been “retired” since age 53, 21 yeaars ago and just do not miss the stress in particular. Thumbs up to Airbnb, but read amenities and reviews carefully. In December and January using three of their listings, and have used at least a dozen in the past, here and Europe. Glad all is well with you and yours. Enjoy Spring!

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