It seems impossible, but we’ve been in South Africa for almost six weeks.
Since we arrived in Langebaan on January 10th, we’ve settled into small town life. I now recognize and greet people everywhere I go. I also wave at complete strangers, chat with people in the supermarket and have made friends with just about everyone I’ve talked to for more than five minutes. Having existed without a car (*gasp!*) for the past six weeks, we are now recognized as the ones with the “lekker big pram”. Translated that means the awesome big stroller, and I can’t deny that it is.* Once we leave, I’m pretty sure our absence will be noticed.
With our borrowed bike, the stroller, and occasional rides from our landlord or new friends, we’ve been perfectly mobile. I’m thrilled with our decision to put off getting a car — living on the cheap is part of our mission, and we’re doing a formidable job of it so far. That said, our car-free existence has come to an end. We rented a car on Monday, which we’ll keep until we leave in June. Transportation in Cape Town can be extremely challenging without wheels. Public transit is minimal, and the more informal ways of getting around can be dangerous. We still plan on riding bikes and using the stroller as much as we can. Fish Hoek — the suburb/village we’ll be living in — is very tiny, so it’s actually doable. But we would like to go on weekend trips and be able to visit friends around town, so a car is a necessary extra expense.
Another extra expense, that is also unavoidable, is hiring an au pair or nanny for the girls. I feel extremely privileged to be able to afford this — something so out of reach in Canada that it’s actually laughable — but it’s financially more viable to hire someone to babysit them than to send them to full-time daycare. Plus there are the added bonuses of having someone pick up after them who’s not me (hooray!) and being able to go into Cape Town with Josh if we want to have a bit of quality time, or eat at a nice restaurant, once in a while.
All in all, things are great. We’re living cheaply but comfortably. We’re not counting our pennies. But we’re also not running around throwing money away. Josh has a few interviews with sailing-related companies in Cape Town, and I’m working on a handful of personal essays that I feel confident I can sell. April is thrilled that she’ll get to see her friends in a few days, and I’m looking forward to seeing my extended family, reconnecting with my friends and getting back to my home town.So I guess it’s so long Langebaan. It’s been great. See you soon Cape Town. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter holds.
* Our Chariot (double stroller/bike trailer) is the best thing I’ve bought in years. I thank Craigslist and my wonderful friend Lisa for (a) providing us with one at less than half price and (b) for convincing me that it would be the best purchase ever. It was.
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