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Not My Travels, But Still My Memories

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March 1, 2015 / African / By
Katie Schenk

I love picking up stray Americans and inviting them into my home and life.  I do it all the time. 

When my children were still babies, I adopted a trio of Americans backpacking across the world.  I hear the accent – and the question they posed to the book seller that couldn’t assist them.  I interceded and they ended up staying a few weeks at our place. 

During the World Cup in South Africa, I helped four Americans with a place to stay for several days.  They weren’t strangers, per se; one of them was an old friend of my sister’s.  And now, I’m entertaining a friend of my brother’s while he experiences life in South Africa for a few months. 

I’ve always done this.  Maybe it’s because we had exchange students when I was young.  Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time with the exchange students in high school.  Or maybe it’s because I understand just how important that local, yet relatable knowledge is to a fantastic travel experience.  I took off for the first time at 18.

But now that I’ve got a new American in town, I want to ensure he has plenty of super cool memories to take back with him.  And even though it’s not my travels, they’re still my memories.  So, of course, rugby was always going to be on the cards for my pal.  And the best time to do it?  Before the season gets too hectic, of course.

 

Then, happily, my son’s friend was in town for just one more weekend before moving to Australia.  It all just seemed too perfect: an American to introduce to rugby and a goodbye celebration for one of the coolest kids I’ve ever met in my life.  I planned a small home braai, which is the most important foodie experience anyone visiting South Africa can have.  (It’s a barbeque, but South African’s do it specially.)  And then we’d all head off to the Lions versus Stormers game at Ellis Park.  You can see the memory in the making, can’t you?

With everyone gathered at my house, I was intent on making memories for the travellers involved.  But then, the skies opened and water came pouring down in the most dreadful, hope-dashing way.  I fretted.  It wasn’t even the game that was at stake; it was also my dinner.  I hadn’t even picked up steaks or chops (common braai meats); I had only gotten boerewors – a typical South African sausage.  And, I’d gotten a lot of it.  We had thick ones and thin ones, and neither does well in the oven grill.  They’re ever so much better on the braai.

Then the rain began to ease, and we moved the grill under a covered patio so we could at least capture that part of my plan.  I prepared a simple coleslaw (cabbage, carrots, green onions, mayo, red wine vinegar and pinches of salt and sugar) and fretted over whether we’d make it through to the game when it started.  It was still so wet outside. 

The adults ate in front of the opening minutes of the game on television.  I indulged the kids, allowing them to eat in front of the television in the den (we call it the “Guy’s Lab”).  I was waiting to see what the stadium looked like, whether it was still raining too hard to make the journey to Ellis Park pointless.  I was going to leave it.  After all, memories aren’t just about events and rugby games.  But then, I just couldn’t shake the desire; I wanted to go and I wanted everyone else to have the experience too.

 

So, we organised our Uber Van and headed to the stadium to watch one of the most exciting matches between these two teams.  The Lions were working so hard to keep the ball in play long enough to get a try after the buzzer sounded – and it looked like they were going to do it too.  (They didn’t.)  But we were triumphant.  Everyone had such a fantastic time; talking loudly as Uber drove us home, dropping my American friend off along the way.  My son’s friend was staying the night. 

 

And this morning?  Well, I thought about taking the kids out for breakfast.  But then, I remembered how much boerewors was left from the night before.  Truly, we had wolfed our food and headed out the door.  Instead, I made us all some eggs and thin wors (with a bit of sautéed veggies on the side) for breakfast.  And that’s when I realised that it wasn’t about whether I was travelling, or whether we all went to a restaurant for breakfast.  Sometimes, it’s just about the experiences you have with the people that fall in your path, wherever and whenever they do it.  And, oh yeah, I’m also an American that lives in South Africa, a fact I remember and forget on an almost daily basis.

Interested to know more about my crazy life in South Africa?  You can read more at www.askkatie.co.za.


Ellis Park

Country: South Africa

Province/State: Gauteng

City: Johannesburg

Address: South Park Ln, Doornfontein

Zip/Post Code: 2094

Location Tips: Currently called "Emirates Airline Park". It's on the Troyeville side of town.

Phone: + 27 11 402 2960

Website:http://www.lionsrugby.co....

Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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