Thursday, 7 November 2013

30 Days of Gratitude: Loving South Africa

I’ve spoken recently on how I struggled to find a middle ground in transitioning to South Africa. I’ve also posted before on all the things I miss from America. I’ve said in multiple posts, I absolutely love South Africa. I am so blessed to experience this country and I am grateful for my decision to live here. I am thankful for God’s inspiration over my life and praise Him for bringing my South African Hubby into it.

Day 7: Nov 7, 2013
Today, I am grateful for my South African life.

Ma and V getting series over a game!
       1.    I love the social atmosphere in South Africa. It is a difficult thing to describe, because yes, we are social in America too. But’s just different. Our social life determines the direction of our weeks. We are a social nation. It is not uncommon for my family to gather with friends at least twice a week. They are as much my family as anyone. I actually believe that Hubby goes through deprivation if not social enough! ;-) Unfortunately, this is something that has to be experienced and lived, not described. If you’re ever given the opportunity, spend two weeks in a South African home and you’ll get the picture!

      2.    I love what Afrikaans has taught me about manners! What?!? I’m sorry, but looking back....Americans can come across as rude. We have our own form of manners back home, but those don’t come close to the standard that the Afrikaans people hold. It’s more than please or thank you. For one, you do not call someone older than yourself by the term ‘you.’ I would not ask Hubby’s ma ‘would you like some coffee?’ (okay, I have because it’s taken me a while to get the terms down!) Technically, I would say ‘Does Ma want some coffee’ even when I’m speaking directly to her. Why? Because it’s rude to say you. Second example, those older than myself (not by two or three years....but like 10 years or so) I would call by Oom (uncle) and Tannie (aunt). It is respect kind of like Mame and Sir, however, we continue to use these terms even when we know the people quite well.

      3.    I love the wildlife. I feel so blessed to have access to a wildskamp (game camp) here on the farm where I work. I don’t feel we utilize this enough. Even more than the animals themselves, I love the passion people have for nature and preserving it. Thousands of people go out of there way each and everyday to make a difference and preserve the unique species of animals and plants we have. Do you get lions in other countries? Of course. Do you find people across the world trying to make a difference in nature? Of course. But until I came never felt so real and so close to home. Plant life is general knowledge for so many South Africans. They know the species that are native to South Africa and take pride in this aspect.

      4.    I love the Springboks! Rugby is awesome! I’m still enjoy football, but I love that we have a national team here! I mean outside of the Olympics. I love seeing hundreds of thousands of people join up to proudly support this country. It’s not just the Springboks either. It’s Bafana-Bafana (national soccer team) and the Protea’s (national cricket team). We are highly ranked in cricket and rugby having held the #1 world spot more than once. People from each race and culture come together to cheer for those playing this team and proudly stand as a country behind ONE team. I love it!
      5.    I love the meat! Another subject that you’re probably thinking I’m crazy about. But hear me out. The meat just tastes different here! It tastes....natural. It took me months to get used to. I couldn’t believe there was such a difference in ground beef. First of all, when I came to South Africa, ground beef is called mince and I therefore thought we were eating lamb all the time! Silly Shana. But no, it was just tasted so...wild! Once I opened my mind and started allowing my taste buds to explore, I was completely won over. The meat here is amazing. It’s full of flavor all on it’s own. It’s full of life...not the bloody kind, but it just brings so much to the palate. And believe me, South African men LOVE their meat! The variety as well. I never ate or even heard of eating Ostrich neck in America. But believe me, it’s good! And Ox tail....makes the absolute BEST potjie. Lamb chops on a braai are probably one of my favorite treats too!

       6.    Which brings me to biltong. Nope it is not beef jerky. Similar but oh, so different! You get Chili bites and droĆ«wors. You get biltong chips and even powder (shaved biltong) to through in your baby’s puree’s! Biltong is a process and the South Africans have it right. Again....if someone offers you the opportunity to come some biltong!

      7.    I love the diversity. Yes, America is the melting pot...but that is the problem! The diversity is melting’s getting all mixed up. I love that I don’t need to travel to a specific area to experience someone’s culture. Because everything about how the live and carry out day to day life is immersed in their culture. There is no Zulu town like there is China town in Chicago. Zulu town is everywhere a Zulu person is standing. In the workplace, people have learnt to function based on each other’s cultural standing. We see different weddings and funerals each day. We see how each other eats different types of food and how we raise our children in different settings. A Sotho woman will proudly walk down the street in her cultural attire and an Afrikaans boer will pass her without thinking it differently. The people learn to communicate effectively even though we don’t share the same languages. And traditions and values are continuously carried down though the generations. I love getting up each and everyday to the extremity of it all!

      8.    Which brings me to the next point, domestic workers. I love that this is a norm. Haha call me spoilt, it’s okay! When Hubby first told me, when I was still in America, that they had a maid....I almost hit the floor. What?!? He had to explain that this didn’t mean a financial standing at all. This was normal for most people. When I came here, I experienced it. Now my nanny, Maggy, comes in each morning at 6:30am and leaves at 5:30pm Monday-Friday. She cleans my house and cares for my youngest son. She feeds him home cooked foods, baths him, and stimulates him with playing games and teaching him new things. He gets exposed to her culture and she cares for him like her own child. For a little more than I would pay for daycare, I get my house cleaned and my child taken care of. I seriously doubt I could function without her at this point! Example, Friday I took a refill out for my deodorant as I had used the last of it that morning. I didn’t get a chance to refill it before I left for work. I come home to a full bottle! It’s small things that make my day so much better. I am gone for work 11 hours a day and enjoy that the 2 ½ hours I get with my children in the evenings is not bogged down by daily household chores. She is a true blessing!

      9.    I love the randomness that operates all around us constantly! I love seeing the boys herding the donkeys down the side of the road or chasing after a loose goat. I love the frustration that comes from the jostle of taxi’s in every freakin’ place we go (this frustrates my Hubby, but it’s amazing to me!). I love hearing the men talk about the water holes on the land to supply their own fresh water and love seeing the ‘we’ll make a plan’ attitude in action. Each culture has their own way of living. Each culture has their own way of operating a day. But they get it done. Whether it’s creating a new township for places to live or being a car guard (watching over the cars so that it isn’t damaged or broken into) at the local shopping centre to earn money for their family, people have this attitude of we will get it done!

      10.  And probably one of my favorite things, the landscape. This country is absolutely beautiful. Everywhere you look, from the browns of winter wheat and the dry wildkamp to the green and rolling mountains. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s beautiful to experience and it is so relaxing. I mean just look at where we were married. Are there beaches in other countries and mountains too? Absolutely. But for such a small country, we are truly blessed. In a days drive you can experience everything from the ocean life on the KZN coast, to the green rolls of sugar cane fields, to the snow topped mountains of the Drakensburg.

Amazimtoti Beach

Does South Africa have their problems? Every where does in the world so it’s such a silly question.....but this is a beautiful land. It is the home to some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. And I am so proud today to call South Africa home!
Thanks to all of you who put up with my moaning and rants! Jump to Kelsey for more #30DoG

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Shana Danae..


  1. South Africa is on the list of places my husband and I want to visit. Maybe one day I will get there!

  2. If you ever do just let me know and I'll give you tips and tricks and some unknown beauties to visit!

  3. South Africa sounds very similar to Western Australia! We have mince too! ;) Seriously though, it sounds wonderful and while I can see there are some similarities it has its own unique culture and it's such an amazing thing for you to be able to embrace that! And Hope you're enjoying your holidays.




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