I will miss about South Africa…

On this, my family’s last night in South Africa after a 10-month stay, I’m offering this self-indulgent post telling just a few of the things I will miss most about this wonderful country.

People switching languages multiple times in a single sentence.

Going jogging with dogs that are never on leashes.

Mist rising out of our valley in the morning.

The singing.

Weaver birds.

Riding on the back of our car from the gate at the bottom of the driveway to our house.

Always greeting everyone with a complete “How are you.”

Cleaning the whole house thoroughly in less than an hour.

At church there are usually more kids in bare feet than in shoes.

Leaving screenless windows open all year round (very few mozzies).

“Super” grocery stores are still smaller than most U.S. grocery stores.

Having a four-wheel drive vehicle and needing it.

Motorcycling on dirt roads.

Being at home as a family almost every single night.

Almost everybody cooks almost everything from scratch.

Being offered tea. Constantly.

Hearing my kids adjust their accent for their friends.

Hearing my kids recite essays and poems in Afrikaans and Zulu.

Schools, factories, meetings, and hip hop jam sessions all starting or ending in prayer.

Giving strangers rides in our car.

Dropping in on people without appointments.

Knowing friends who know the best ways to subvert bureaucracy.

Coffee shops with good coffee for a dollar.

School uniforms.

A housekeeper doing our laundry once a week.

Friends whose kids climb mountains, trees, and waterfalls easily.

Nearly everybody wanting to wave, smile, and talk to me in the township.

Buying stuff from street vendors.

The words shame, hawu, yebo, muthi, ach man, hectic, sorted, packed up, yah, and eish.


School finishing at 2:00.

The smell of wood smoke and dry grass.

No traffic jams (unless you go to a bigger city or get stuck behind a tractor).

Try-Me, the neighbor’s half-blind horse that once fell in their swimming pool.

Using “I do research” as an excuse to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere, any time.




  1. Heidi Winters

    My heart is bursting as I read this. It has been so long, too long, since we’ve been in South Africa but everything you write fills me with beautiful memories and make me sad at the same time because I miss it all so much. Wishing you the best in this next exciting season!

  2. Kim

    Wow! Your list could have been my list after we spent a year in Uganda :) Still missing a lot of those things — especially the people. We made such good friends, and thankfully with technology we can stay in touch with many of them. Thanks for sharing your list and calling to mind some beautiful memories!

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