Things you can miss about South Africa after a month

Today was my month-iversary of being in Dayton, OH. This blog was always going to be about observations, and consequently one of comparisons. My dad always says, you can't know the good, without having the bad to juxtapose it with. Every day spent here in the US is spent comparing things to South Africa, even if just subconciously.

So today I give you a list I miss about home, and why. I will also serve as list of things that are, in my opinion, better in SA. Some might have been written about in previous entries, but if your memory is that awesome, rather go play Trivial Pursuit or something. I will eventually post a list of things that are better here in the States, I promise, cross my heart, pinky swear etc.

Things we miss (in no particular order):
1. Good coffee. You can find an awesome cappuccino around every corner in Jozi. A good cappuccino is strong, but not too bitter. It has flavour, and I don't mean something that comes in a syrup bottle.  And it has a thick layer of frothy foam on top, with a little pattern the barrista made just for you. Seriously, hardly anyone buys weak filter coffee. You get enough of that from the office kitchen. Which leads me to number 2 and 3.

2. Wolves. This is my favorite coffee shop street cafe in Melrose, Johannesburg. I miss the awesome cinos, made from Bean There beans (see point 3). I miss the cute branded cups it is served in, and the miss-match tables you sit at. I miss the indie music mix that makes me want to stay there all day. And I miss the quirky owners Angie and Shane, and Edwin the barrista/waiter/host.

3. Bean There. This awesome coffee roastery at 44 Stanley buys their beans through direct free trade from farms in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda. They roast it themselves, sell you coffee from single origin, and can even tell you about their adventures and meetings with the farmers.

4. 44 Stanley avenue, Millpark and Arts on Main, JHB CBD. These quirky urban renewal shopping complexes are like breathing a breath of fresh air (even though the air is not that clean in the city). I love the random vintage and arty shops, galleries and markets, the (super trendy/unique) people watching, and coffee at Bean there, and fresh artisan bread at Vovo Telo.

5. Virgin Active gyms. We miss our gyms. They were clean. They were busy. And they had super new equipment with individual TV screens on all the cardio machines. And most people use sweat towels.

6. Roads with proper lines and traffic lights. Yes people, for some reason they most often don't paint lines at Stop signs. In South Africa you at least see the word STOP on the road, and I line, even if the actual sign might be stolen.

7. Internet banking. Now, I have no need for this here, but Jaco does. I also don't know how it works elsewhere in the States, but here it goes like this: You pay a beneficiary online, then the bank writes a cheque (!) to that person and mails it, which takes 5 days! I just used cheque and mail in the same sentence. All that is missing is sending a fax and it would be 1984 again.

8. Shopping trolleys that don't cause bruises. Seriously, some person was obviously trying to prevent his wife from shopping too often when he designed these trolleys (carts). The bottom grid, where you normally load big bags of dog food or charcoal, extends just far enough to the back to wack you in the shins time and time again. The only way to avoid it is to rest your folded arms on the handlebars and shuffle along like a hobo.

9. Cleaning staff. Call us lazy or even colonial, but it is very reassuring seeing cleaning staff everywhere all the time. Your desk gets cleaned, even while you are trying to work, the floors gets washed, even while you try to walk there, and the gym equipment gets wiped continuously. Here cleaning teams arrive during the night, or consist of college kids working a temp job. I just don't trust it. Especially because I've seen the results. They think people won't notice, but there are dust bunnies in the corners and sweat on the machines. Cleaning the loos and taking out the trash is not enough guys. You need to come take lessons from Mama Lizzie.

10. Real news. Yes, we still read News 24 and other international news reports every day, because TV news is just so darn ridiculous. I know it is important to know about the weather, but seriously, not every 2 minutes. And I need to know things that affect the world, or at least the country. Small town skinner stories belong in a small paper, not on prime time TV. Appreciate the SABC, aka ANC news and eTV guys. When Riaan Cruywagen and Deborah Patter speaks, you know when things are serious.

That's it for today. Please note, it goes without saying that we miss our families, cats and friends like crazy.

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