Moving to Pretoria has been quite an adventure – sometimes fun, exciting and easy – other times – not so much. I have discovered that there are things I really miss from the US ( namely – Caramel Macchiato Coffee Creamer, REAL Margaritas, Amazon.com, unlimited high-speed internet, large bodies of water and an assortment of friends and family who know me well but love anyhow. So – that sucks. But on the flip side – I have had this marvelous opportunity to try new things, see new places and meet new people… wonder and joy galore. So, in honor of our 6-month anniversary as South African residents, I have created a “Top 6” list of my favorite things about ZA.
#6. THE CROWN COLLECTION.
The decimating effects of eBay and Craigslist on the antique market haven’t quite reached South Africa yet. There are still great bargains to be found – namely in the form of European furniture and household goods brought here by an influx of Dutch settlers in the 17th century and British in the 18th. Shops like These days, The Crown Collection and Pieter Oosthuizen are two of my favorite haunts.
#5. ZEBRAS, ZEBRAS, ZEBRAS
Who can argue with Zebras (pronounced zɛbrə not zeebrə – or – so I have been schooled). They are magnificent, enigmatic, alluring and everywhere. Sure the other animals are great – but there’s just something about those stripey butts and doey eyes. Maybe it’s the way they manage to exude both strength and fragility. Maybe it’s the not so “black and white” striping of their hides. (Zebras hide, is, in fact, comprised of variegated beige and brown tones … ranging from the lightest ivory to a dark black/brown). Given my unequivocal nature – I guess it is this lack of pure dichotomy and hints of ambiguity that I relate to.
#4. SUNDAY BREAKFAST AT DOPPIO ZERO
One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants is a friendly place called Doppio Zero. Every Sunday we load Petie in the car and head there for breakfast. Before we can order, Priska (our waitress), arrives at our table – greeting us with a smile and a cheese croissant for Petie (in a bright green dog dish the obtained just for him). She asks if we want “the usual” and we proceed to enjoy our cappuccinos and omelets under big shady umbrellas in the morning sunshine.
#3. THE MORAFIC BAR AT THE FARM INN
Just outside the back entrance to Silver Lakes, is a dubious looking roadway marked by a dated and worn sign announcing the Farm Inn. Follow this road and you will find the most enchanting of destinations. Located within its own little game reserve, the Farm Inn looks like a quintessential game lodge – complete with a thatched roof, cobbled floors, stuffed beasts, zebra hide rugs, roaring fireplaces and a quirky mashup of African and victorian decor. Pass through the inn – you will find the Morafic bar – here, all of the inn’s atmospheric essence is distilled down, poured into a glass and served up with a side of chips (or springbok carpaccio- if you’re into that sort of thing). Absolute heaven!
#2. THE WEATHER.
Michigan is said to have two seasons – “winter and July” – the opposite is said about South Africa where the 2 primary seasons are described as “summer and July”. Here, July means you might have to wear a light jacket or sweater in the evening and summer is a warm sunny stretches of sunshine punctuated by stunning displays of sound and fury – where massive thunderheads, tempestuous winds, thunder, lightning and the occasional downpour will roll across the veldt breaking up the bright blue monotony.
#1. LAID BACK LIVING – FRIENDS, FOOD & ADULT BEVERAGES
While Amarula is my dog’s liqueur of choice – I am partial to the wine – the quality is quite surprising, and the prices better than reasonable. And then there’s the food, the food, the food! (specifically the meat – steaks, chops, ribs, legs… you name it – it’s awesome). Seriously – I am already dreading the food I will someday have to eat stateside. I am not sure how else to describe it – but the food here just tastes more “wholesome” – fewer preservatives, less salt, less sugar, less managed, less manipulated…more “real”, more wonderful.
So, this is how I finish my list….. with a perfect evening ….. where nothing is better than kicking back with friends as the sun sets, sharing a bottle or two of Hermanuspietersfontein while the fillets sizzle on the braai and an Amarula loving Bichon staggers about the yard.