A year ago Raquel and I were driving from my hometown with both our cars filled to the brim with the little possessions we had to start our new life in Joburg. I think under normal circumstances we might have been nervous about what possibly lay ahead, but having spent five months in my hometown, desperately looking for work, there were no nerves present, only insatiable excitement.
The excitement about the move was motivated by several things. Finally being on our own; diving head first into an unknown city; creating a new life for ourselves in this country which I had called home for a long time, but lost its significance due my prolonged absence.
When we signed the lease agreement to our apartment, it was the first time Raquel and I were not sharing a house with one or more people. We had the one bedroom apartment to ourselves and nobody else. As odd as this may sound to some people, I was excited that for once I could walk around in my underwear (or less) in living space in without freaking someone out.
Raquel and I have lived in shared accommodation since university, so to have a place where we were its sole inhabitants was initially odd as there is no else’s bad and good habits to get used to; no else who needed to be informed of possible dinner companions; no need to label food or have separate food cabinets. The place was ours; we could do whatever we wanted.
Outside of the apartment, we had a new city to get used to and explore. Where to get groceries; get a haircut; get your nails done (obviously this one is more focused towards Raquel); your pizza place when you don’t want make dinner; or the place where you go and have a relaxed chill brunch on the weekend. All those little things you need to discover as part of adapting to a new home.
I think for both Raquel and I another big plus was that this would be the first time we would be working in the same continent, let alone city, so for the first time in our relationship, the end of a working day meant going home to the person we love and not roommates, colleagues or anything else (which most of the time we love, but in a very different way).
The new life in Jozi and the apartment allowed the freedom of entertaining friends and family for dinner, with one of our first dinner guests being an American couple we met in Sapa, Vietnam. Despite the apartment not lending itself to entertaining, we now had the option to have people over and enjoy lunching and dining with them.
If we weren’t having dinner at home with friends, we were trying different restaurants with the friends we have in Jozi, which ranged from the weekend markets in the Maboneng Precinct to the roof market in Kramerville, or heading out to Cyrildene’s China town, or simply trying out the variety of different restaurants in the area we live in.
Jozi is by no means London when it comes to the cultural entertainment the city has to offer, but it certainly is better than Tripoli, Beira and Conakry which were my host cities over the last 4 years. We were fortunate that over the last year we were able to enjoy a schmorgus board of things in Jozi ranging from stand-up comedy in the form of Eddie Izzard and local favourite Trevor Noah; to ballet with the St Petersburg State Ballet performing Swan Lake; to some cultural fun with the annual Turkish festival and a Fado Exhinition; to the messy faux Holi dance festival; to some major music with the Dave Mathews Band; to naturally some sport like the Bafana vs Spain match; and finally to walks in the city like last weekend in the Maboneng Precinct.
I confess that the list is not as large as we’d hoped, as work had kept us quite through November last year, but this year we definitely want to improve this seeing more that’s on offer in Jozi.
However sometimes it’s the simple things going to a Movie or the gym together that make this city enjoyable too. The fact that we can create a nest and a network of places and people we interact in and with it what has made our first year in Jozi so enjoyable.
With a fantastic year behind us, it is only quite fitting that the year anniversary of our lives here, marks another great and exciting change for us as we will be moving into our first house together. This will finally be the place where we can make our mark and call HOME. This house will almost be the full stop to the change process and allow us root ourselves to this remarkable city.
Thank you Jozi for opening your arms to us!