Week 03 – Back to 5Cees

#17 Johannesburg Love

17 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

This city has such a different personality from my own. Large, gritty, competitive, and opportunity driven. Honestly on paper it wouldn’t seem like a good fit.

This trip though, I’ve found myself simply thinking… Man, I love it here. Over and over again.

I’m thankful that this city is where my people are. And that this will be my home base whenever I’m on the African continent. Hope my next visit isn’t too far away!

#18 Lindokhule

18 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Lindo and I bonded well when I was here last… Probably because he and I were very similar in high school. Spending more effort trying to get out of work than doing the work.

When I arrived here, I was bummed to find out he had aged out and moved away just a month prior. So close! I was looking forward to being reunited.

Then, yesterday, he happens to drop by. Much like the Lindo of old times, but also three years older like the rest of us. He definitely had his share of crazy stories over the past few years, which I got to learn about over the course of tea for four hours. Missed this guy a ton, but glad our paths crossed.

#19 Deanna in Jozi

19 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

It’s been making me really happy all week to see Deanna hanging out around the center, helping with homework, and playing with the kids. Three years ago it was a place she knew by my emailed stories… Now she has stories of her own.

Honestly, I think that when a place or experience in your life shapes you so much, you’ve gotta let the people you share your life with see it. Even if it isn’t the same thing to them that it was to you, it will help that much more with understanding each other.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy sights like this for a little while longer. It’s been a good time.

#20 Art Therapy in Africa

20 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Just a public service announcement, Deanna is really, really good at her job.

Today we did a lot of art therapy exercises with the kids. Through the process, we got to hear more than a few of their stories.

“When my brother died,” one of them explained a drawing, “me, my sister, and grandma were really sad. Then I wrote a poem. I still felt sad, but my sister and grandma were happier after reading it.”

#21 Zoo Lake

21 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

A huge happy birthday to our local friend Bongi! Ever since she introduced me to Arts On Main on my first visit three years ago, she’s always been my informant on what’s fun in Joburg.

This visit has been no exception. She’s been a great source of help to Deanna and I.

I had a blast celebrating tonight in Braam. And I have the fatty bruise on my wrist from a collapsing table to robe it. I never thought I’d say this, but I now know what it’s like to be the whitest guy in the club.

#22 Deanna Heads Back

22 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Took Deanna to the airport tonight. Unfortunately her work schedule doesn’t allow her to stay as long as I get to, but I’m so glad she got to be a part of my second visit to South Africa and see some of the kids I’ve kept telling her about.

A few things this trip has really helped me appreciate;

1- Deanna’s willingness to come along for the experience. I know getting to visit Africa was a lifelong dream of hers, and I’m glad I got to see it happen.

2 – Uber. It makes life easier in the states, but in South Africa? It’s given me an easy and affordable way to get around I could only dream about on my first visit. Plus I’ve had the most fun conversations with my Jozi drivers.

3- Getting around way more easily. My first trip was much more confined. This time, I feel like I have way more access to the city. It’s more than just the Uber thing too. I feel more directionally oriented. I know the culture much better. I feel at ease in a place where living isn’t usually easy.

#23 The Center’s Alley

23 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

It was a quieter Saturday at the center… the first one of the year, meaning the kids are still figuring out how Saturdays are going to work with the newly imposed study time and everything.

It was also my first Saturday with Deanna on her way back to the United States meaning that this stay will bear a lot of resemblance now to my previous visit, where we did the long distance thing for almost three months, only being able to email.

It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. But it actually did wonders for our communication. Being back here, especially knowing that I was able to bring her back this time as my wife, feels like a celebration.