Thursday, January 31, 2008

South Africa - My Second Home - Part One

You will all have to forgive me for jumping from one continent and one country to the other but I have so many disks and am just grabbing pictures as I find them. Once again these are very old scans from slide film so the quality is not that great.

In 1985 I moved to The Republic Of South Africa after my first marriage ended in divorce. I had a two year old daughter at the time and the unrest in Zimbabwe helped me make this decision.

I packed my clothes, my daughter and her clothes and left my place of birth with 500 Rand in my pocket which is the currency of South Africa. I can't remember what the equivalent in US Dollars was at the time but it was not a lot of money (Maybe half a month's salary even less), but those were the rules of the government at the time.

If you wanted to take a car or furniture with you, your car had to be more than 20 years old, your furniture more than 5 years old (you had to provide sales receipts to prove it or get the furniture evaluated) and you could take only R500 with you .... period. Everything else had to stay. I am not going to get into politics but it was hard.

They had stopped people taking out insurance and retirement annuities before leaving which was one way that people were getting their money out with them. In a nutshell they cottoned on to everything and did everything in their power to make sure you left with as little as possible.
At the time Petrol (called Gas here in USA) was very short and we were rationed, only allowed so many gallons a month to get to work and back, had to apply for our "ration" and when the flow got worse we used to park our cars in a queue outside a service station on a Friday night so that we could be there first thing on Monday morning when the delivery arrived to get 10 litres (a bit more than 2 gallons) and when it ran out everyone else got nothing so it was first come first served until the following shipment which was normally a week later.

Also it was not the fuel like we get here, they had mixed Ethanol into the petrol which presented its own problems, my little old car used to get too hot for it and it would start evaporating before it got to the carburettor and my engine would cut out until it had cooled down enough to make another spurt for the border LOL.

To make matters worse, I had just got up a nice speed and was chugging along when an eagle that had landed in the middle of the road to eat some roadkill (sounds like a comedy!) wouldnt move until the last minute to get out of my way and it slammed into my windshield shattering it!! Fortunately it remained intact so I didnt have a big hole in place of the windshield but it made for very difficult driving.

I started off my South African adventure with a 2 year old daughter, a car that was falling apart and no money. I was very fortunate that my brother put us up for a short time in Johannesburg and then I moved in with some old Zimbabwean friends who had moved a little while before, to house sit for them and to help get back on my feet and find a job.

The first picture is of one of my favorite animals, the giraffe, this was a young one. The second one is of a lion that lived in a lion park near where I later lived in Johannesburg and the last one is of another favorite of mine the Zebra and foal which was taken in a small game park just on the outskirts of Johannesburg outside a town/city called Krugersdorp (same park as the shot of the giraffe). We would often make a day trip to this little game reserve and on one occasion stayed overnight in their guest lodge which was wonderful and attracted a lot of tourists.

To be continued .....


Rising Rainbow said...

I'm not sure about it sounding like a comedy. It sounds pretty tough to me. We are fortunate in this country we haven't had to endure government opression like that.

The pictures are beautiful as always.

Anonymous said...

Life without the roses. It sounds bad and probably was but you are almost certainly a better person for it and those experiences.

I enjoyed reading it and also enjoyed your photographs.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It certainly sounds like a harsh government to live under, happy to hear you made it out. The shame of it is if it weren't for the government, it is probably a wonderful and exciting place to live. Love your pictures.

CG said...

It sounds pretty scary to me! i'm fascinated by your life story. I always visualise things as I'm reading them and got very absorbed "seeing" you escaping from the country.
Can't wait for more.

L said...

Argh, I don't like authoritarian governments. Glad you were able to leave! The photos are gorgeous, though!

Elaine said...

What an adventure, though I am sure it was scary at the time. I don't know if I would be that daring. Love the photos, and I am looking forward to more of the story!

Cyndie Planck said...

Hi Lori, just stopping in to peek again, it's cool for me to know the areas you are talking about. Nice shots too!

Mike said...


What a story! It is a combination of the beauty of your pictures with the terror and unrest of your trip and attempt to flee. Even though I know the ending I find myself waiting for the "rest of the story".

Love it and you could turn this into a book at the end!


Anne said...

What a story. Your sense of humor surely got you through it.

I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Your photos are stunning.

Salty said...

Beautiful shots! The giraffe photo is awesome!

You have certainly lived an interesting life! I’m glad you are taking the time to share it. I have been aware of some of the troubles in Zimbabwe from being a NPR radio addict and it is extremely interesting to read your first hand account.

Julie Blair said...

Hi Lorri, When is the book coming out? Heehee...beautiful images. Never been anywhere but the US and the US Virgin Islands(St. John)...hope all is well there.
(By the way, How is Taxes?)

Strawberry Lane said...

The photographs are wonderful.

Fascinating reading! Talk about courage!! Impressive. Please tell more!

puzzled said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Lori! Amazing what you've been through and seen. I really love the photos (so glad you saved them), but for me, in this blog entry, it's your words that have given me so much to think about. It feels like I know you better now. Hope to hear more about those days with your young daughter again!!

Hugs to you from Amy

Carole said...

Fabulous images so detailed and colours superb. Love them


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