I’ve just read a novel called The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa and it got me thinking back to our life in South Africa, the place we called home for over 6 years.
The German Girl is a novel, based on a true story, about the plight of German Jews during WW11, and in a sweeping tragic undercurrent it also encapsulates the joys and sorrows of exiles worldwide seeking a place to call home.
While I might not be a refugee, and definitely lay no claim to tragic hardship, the book made me think about our daily life in South Africa and about expats and exiles.
Up-rootment and not a gin and tonic in sight
We were expats who moved because of changed circumstances. We weren’t forcibly moved due to gun toting political instability in our backyard or war, but we did begin a new life in a new country, and moving and leaving was hard.
The idea of being an expat comes with a serrated edge. The notion of gin and tonics at sunset along with outdated imperialism and colonialism follow the notion of the expat, though most of all the word implies being some sort of an up-rootment, and being geographically removed from one’s roots.
And it’s not always the peaches and cream existence that cartoonists capture in pencil, because geographical freedom comes at a price.
Leaving a country of domicile is always hard, emotionally and psychologically.
Have you had to leave a place you loved hard?
If you are on the verge of departing, or have left your country of domicile, I hope that you take solace from the basic idea that life might, and often can be better when the umbilical strings have been cut, and your new life has begun ‘on the other side’.
They say that you miss your life much more fiercely when you are still living it, than when you’ve moved on, and this much I know is true.
Have you ever had to leave a country or a place you’ve loved really hard?
Where was it? How did you feel?
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We still miss you both but are pleased you’re happy there in Aus xoxo
Thank you Helen x We still miss you guys too.
Thank you for these beautifully written words. The speak to my heart and my love for South Africa. We have sold our property and dissolved our business there. We are just back to the USA from there. We are still
Surfing the decision on where to live. We are currently gypsies traveling and trying to decide where to live. My parents are 90 and 88 and we feel we need to be on this continent for them. Currently we are traveling to be with them.
My heart cries out for South Africa but my head says stay in your own country where it is safe? Well it’s all relative. The USA has its issues to.
We will tour America and Canada this summer with our eyes and our hearts open to finding a place we want to call Home. Next year we will I’ll travel New Zealand and Australia for several months and then we will
Try to decide where to put our roots!
Will it be here or will it be back in South Africa? They are experiencing many issues now but my heart still
cries out for the life we had there.
Guess our teeter totter will elvovle but I’m still stuck going back and forth. we willjust have to see where the river flows to for us. Blessings for your journey and thanks for sharing it!
Thank you for your heartfelt words and lovely reply Lynde. I feel for you ‘surfing the decision on where to live’ as well as needing to juggle family responsibilities. Yes, South Africa has a pull that is very strong but it’s great that you are giving yourselves time to explore and think, and as you say teeter between worlds while you see where the river flows. Thinking of you, and good luck with your decisions.
Hi my dear Jo what a wonderful heartfelt article. I so enjoyed reading it. With hindsight I think you made a good decision; what’s happening now is that our children are leaving S.A.in droves! Big hugs Sandy xx
Hi Sandy, thanks for your lovely comment. I miss you so much. I’m sad that so many grown up children are leaving S.A. I wonder what your gorgeous girls are up to these days.xx
This was a great read, written from the heart, and made me love my country despite all its negative issues. I was born in Scotland, raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and have spent most of my adult life in South Africa. We nearly immigrated to Scotland when we retired but I’m so glad we didn’t. Although at times I long for a life where we could safely walk along the beach front in an evening (at the bottom of our road) and look at the outside world without peering through bars. It would be nice to be able to go to sleep without waking with a start realizing we forgot to set the alarm. But hey! South Africa’s home, and I guess will be until I move to my Heavenly Home – where there will be NO need for alarms and burglar bars!
Hello Shirley and thanks for your wonderful reply. Yes, there is much to love about South Africa and it is hard to leave and start all over again. There are always two sides to every coin and decisions we each have to make. In the end there are compromises, whatever we choose.
Fabulous post Jo – still evocates strong emotions. Love the place but glad I made the change. Even though it took 8 years to really call the UK home!
Hi Kim, and thank you for your comment. Yes, when I think back the emotions run strong but we move on. I understand that it might have taken you 8 years to really call the UK home too x
I have never had to leave a place but husband did. He left the USA to come to the UK to marry me. That was 7 years ago and he says he never once regretted his decision to leave everything behind and start again in a new country
Ahh that’s lovely Molly 🙂
Hi Johanna, I totally understand where you are coming from as we too left our home country, Russia, and come to live in Australia. And although our live was not as colourful as yours, the move was terribly hard.
Interestingly enough, my second husband is former SA, from Cape Town and I fell in love with it the first time he brought me there to meet with his parents. As a matter of fact, I just posted two blogs about our trip along Garden Route. You can read it here https://lookingfabulousat50.blogspot.com.au/2018/04/driving-along-garden-route-part-i-from.html
I totally sympathise Anna. What a coincidence that your husband is a former South African.
What an interesting life you have lived. We here in the USA forget sometimes what other countries can really be like to live in. In some of our intercities, I do think it is like living in some war-torn and political countries.
Hi Victoria, Thank you. Although I loved living in South Africa, I am happy for the stability and safety of Australia. I haven’t been fortunate to see much of the USA yet, but I can imagine what you say about some innercities is very real.
Wow Jo – this was definitely from your heart (as well as your head) and really interesting to read. We know so many South African and Zimbabwean expats who live around us – they say Australia is similar to Africa climate wise (except we have more flies apparently) and the people are similar too. Some have gone back to visit family but always comment that they are relieved to return because things are so dangerous over there. I’ve never been an expat – I love Australia and can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live, but I also have a little bit of envy in my heart for those who have gained so much from international living.
Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
(PS in answer to your question about my e-book – I did it in Canva with their template)
Thank you Leanne 🙂 Yes, there are a lot of scatterlings in WA. I think being born in Australia is like winning the lottery of life really – but it’s nice that you realise and know how much you love it here.
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
Hi Jo, I never realised you had lived in so many places – such an interesting life. My son went to school with a boy who had moved from South Africa – they were Afrikaan and life was just getting too difficult. I also met a lady on a boat going from Bali to Lombok back in 1995. She was from South Africa but told us stories of being fearful because she was white. It seems to have a troublesome political side and yet there is the natural beauty and Africa seems such a special place. Thanks so much for sharing your life and insights into SA – I’ve only read about it in books by Wilbur Smith mainly. #MLSTL
Hi Sue, thanks for your lovely comments and additions. I love hearing about other people’s lives. Oh Wilbur Smith – a legend 🙂