Monday 19 October 2015

Why visiting 'home' feels different after you leave

I've been thinking all morning about what I write this post about. For people in South Africa reading this there is the fear I'll come across as a scare monger. For people who know that I lived here, they may think that as its only been 10 months since I left that surely nothing much has changed.

Well so far I've been back 'home' for 4 days and not a lot has changed. I'm back to work as a volunteer which you can read about here.

So far I've been to a meeting, seen nearly all my friends, had my hair and nails done at my usual place, different hair stylist, watched the rugby in a bar wearing my Wales shirt, eaten out and drunk wine. My favourite coffee shop has altered its lay out. There's now a cover over the security gate at the golf estate where we used to live and a few new layouts on a couple of roads.

The cost of living has increased, enough to really notice, but otherwise, everything is still the same. I had a school run to do in the afternoon and a physio appointment at 4pm. 

What I'd forgotten was how much open space there was and clear blue skies, how I can spend all day outside instead of being under noisy air conditioning units.

But what is different for me is my safety. I feel slightly anxious when I'm driving around. Not scared like I was when I first moved here in regards to my personal safety, just aware of it, none stop.

By the time we left here in December 2014 I was used to keeping myself safe. It had become second nature to me. I left a hijack gap at the lights without thinking about it. Kept my handbag under the front seat, automatically drove certain routes at night time to get home. I was aware 24/7 but I wasn't aware I was doing that.

I've done a lot of solo travel this year, to the UK, Canada where I explored Toronto on my own and of course getting to know my new home in Dubai. Hubby has traveled far and wide this year and I've spent a lot of time completely on my own in Dubai. 

But Dubai is safe, I often discover that I haven't locked the kitchen door some nights. I think nothing of going anywhere, using public transport, driving miles to explore new places without any idea of where I'm going before I set off.

I've relaxed, my whole way of life has changed again, not for better or worse, just different. I get asked where I prefer to live
I can't answer that other than say that I'm sure in a few days second nature will kick back in and I'll feel at home again in South Africa and won't want to go back to Dubai. 


  1. Hi Suzanne, I know that after living in South Africa for a couple of years I couldn't make it my permanent home. I was there when Nelson Mandela got voted in as president which was a pretty unsettling time. After spending a few weeks in Johannesburg (my husband was born and bred there) we moved down to the Eastern Cape, living on the Kromme River (near Jeffery's Bay, which back then never had the big houses it has now.

    It is beautiful and amazing country, but I never felt totally relaxed there, it may have something to do with the fact that the houses have bars over the windows and I know many of my husbands friends in Johannesburg carry guns. Just after I arrived there I remember going to a party and being shocked at the fact people handed guns in like we (in the UK) handed in coats.

    In the hotel bar I worked in, I would be handed guns to put in the safe and I couldn't get used to watching where I drove or going through red lights after a certain time of night. The drink driving back then was horrendous and people died regularly in the little area we were in. It was all so different to what I was used to.

    When we go back to see Neals family I'm happy to be there, but I'm happy to leave. They may have nice houses, boats and cars, but I don't think they know freedom as we do, as when they come over here they can't get over the fact you are pretty much safe where ever you go, we always leave the key in the front door and the cars parked outside unlocked and with the windows open.

    And I don't think it's scaremongering, it's saying it as it is.
    It'll be interesting to see how you feel about being back there after five weeks, will you want to stay or will you be happy heading back to Dubai?

    Good luck with your charity work over there!


    1. I'd forgotten you had lived in SA, we were here when Mandela died and I'm pleased to say in the 4 years I lived here the only guns I saw were on the police or security guards. The charity work is going well so far, coming to the end of week 1 and i can't believe how fast it is all going. i shall be sad to leave as when I return to Dubai I'll be starting work and have no idea of when I'll be able to visit SA again

    2. Hope the next four weeks go just as well (and maybe a little slower for you). xx

    3. thank you Debbie, coming up to the end of my 2nd week and doesn't feel like I've been away at all