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Today marks 5 years!

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Today seemed so far away, and yet, in the blink of an eye, we have arrived. Five years ago, two people stepped off an airplane and into one of their biggest adventures yet. It all started on that day we landed in Philadelphia, and got our Diversity Visa stamped, marking our official Resident status.

That first week was our first LSD trip, and it was WILD! We relayed from Philadelphia on to Raleigh-Durham, and spent a couple of days exploring the Research Triangle Park. Well, more like exploring FOR the Research Triangle Park! Couldn't find it. Completely hidden from view! Along the way we established a US address in a postbox, applied for the All Important Social Security Number, opened a bank account, learned all about The Hurdle Known As Credit Score, looked at a couple of apartments to rent, and tried to work out where in the world we are. From Raleigh-Durham, we traveled a few hours westward to Charlotte, and immediately thought it was way cooler than R-D was! Spent another couple of days doing job interview(s), looking for places to live, and of course, most important of all, explored Carowinds!
One week went by in a blur, and before we knew it, we were on our way back to SA, but we have managed to establish a presence in the US, and our Green Cards would be in our hands really soon!
About one month later, I departed SA for a permanent move to the USA. My husband stayed on in SA for a few more weeks to tie things up, while I pioneered westward to set up our new lives in the USA. Thankfully we have some dear friends in the US willing to lend a helping hand, and we will forever be grateful for their assistance with a number of things that needed to be done. It really would be a lot harder to do this without someone who can point you in the right direction, or who is at a known location to receive notices and provide a base from where to operate. We were fortunate to secure an apartment before my arrival, so that was a huge relief. We also opted for Immigration Lite, which saw me fly in with two suitcases and a couple of dollars in my pocket. And then I had to buy what I needed: bed, bedding, toiletries, kettle, internet, TV, car, ... Another week of bouncing here and there and everywhere, falling in love with IKEA, falling out of love with self-assembling furniture, hating internet setups, loving how easy things work in the USA, hating credit scores, loving the people who are ever helpful, hating winters, loving the ability to walk to work, loving the view from the apartment, loving the endless possibilities here in the USA...
At the end of the year, husband left SA, and we re-united to start settling in. The first year was quite a flurry of activity, and elsewhere on the forum is a post about all those adventures and the "honeymoon phase". I'll summarize some of it again here for completeness of this report. We had to visit Walt Disney World asap of course, and took a road-trip, one of many more to come, down to Florida from North Carolina. Husband managed to find and start a job within about a month of arriving and looking for work. We relocated a couple hundred miles eastward for said job. We visited many places, including trips to Boston and New York, both of which was amazing and exciting. We attended several sporting events, including a baseball game, several PGA Tour events, and a cricket match. We joined a golf club and made a few friends at the club. We discovered Greenways and explored for days on foot and on bicycles. We eventually worked up the courage to go for drivers licenses and found we passed it with ease, and regretted not getting it done sooner. We grew tired of paying a fortune to eat grilled steaks at the restaurants, and bought a braai and started grilling regularly at home. We increased in size. We learned to drink American Wine, but we love to find South African Wine in the USA. We learned to drink craft beer, and now we have become beer snobs. We discovered that there are many bugs in the USA. Oh so many bugs. Terrible bugs. They ruin summer, unless you buy all kinds of bug repellents, which works with varying degrees of success. We made peace with the fact that in the USA, homes do not have lighting in living spaces, you must bring the standing lamps. And plugs do not have switches, you just have to hope you do not touch anything live while working electrical cords. But all in all, we discovered that even though we miss our friends and family back in South Africa very very much, they are never too far away thanks to modern marvels like Skype and Facebook, and WhatsApp.
The next couple of years saw many changes for us. We did another LSD trip down to Florida, and shortly after relocated there. We saw many job changes between the two of us. We bought more cars and we bought a town-home. We sold our house in South Africa and our things we loved so much. We bought many, many more things from Amazon. So many things. We found that the USA is like a collection of "countries" and what you get and do in one state, is not necessarily the way of the world in another state, even though it is all USA. We miss our South African favourite foods and stores, and now we miss our North Carolina favorite stores. But we learned to embrace the Walmart, and the Publix, and the local South African Goods traders. We found out there are many South Africans here in the USA, and you can kick one from behind just about any bush in the region. We love the festivals and the chance to Gooi Die Taal, and enjoy boerewors rolls, pies, and skaapbraai, and we still have to get to one of the Potjie festivals. We still have to learn what the deal is with American Football, but we enjoy going to or watching the games, even though it takes FOREVER. We have been to the beach, and it was busy and beachy and fun, and we should do it more. We discovered the weather. It is violent and wild, and miserable, but it passes by quick. We were thrilled to learn about "screened whatevers", which are bug-free and pleasant and soothes our African need to spend time outdoors with our braai and our wine and our pets. We have seen the National Mall and it was impressive. We have been to the Outer Banks and it was incredible. We learned about the Wright Brothers doing their test flights out there and realized that we know history, but we don't always know where that history happened. We visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and by accident learned about the First Colony and early US history. We went to see Dollywood and was amazed to find Pigeon Forge in the middle of nowhere being all touristy and surprisingly busy. We learned about "roadside attractions" and were skeptical and still have to venture on one of those. We discovered the Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail along the way and must go back to see more someday. We went to see a live volcano out in Hawaii. On bike. We went to St Pete Beach in Florida, and discovered Pass-A-Grille Beach and the fascinating story. We stopped to see some friends out at Melbourne, and they pointed us to Gator Tail and Frogs Legs at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp on the way back. Who knew? So good. We visited Myrtle Beach and got inspired and changed careers for a while. Endless opportunities for the taking. We camped out INSIDE a theme park, underneath the roller coasters. What a night! Endless fun! We played golf on so many of the famous courses, and more to look forward to. We have been to ice hockey, and even took a shot at goal, and did not land on our ass while at it. We have been to South Africa, we love to visit there and kuier with friends and family, but we love coming home at the end of the trip.
And today we have been at this for a whole five years already. How time flies! We have recently put in our application for citizenship, so next year will be filled with more exciting events. While we enjoy our visits to South Africa, we wish for all of our friends and family to come and visit us here in our new home. There are many more things we look forward to as we continue our adventure. We must go and see the National Parks. Many of them. We must go ski, and we must go see the Rockies in the summertime. We must go see Chicago. And the North in the summer, that everyone raves endlessly on about. We have to visit Cedar Fair, of course. We must go see Texas, where rumour has it there is an unusually large gathering of South Africans. We must go see the Grand Canyon. We must go see Canada, or parts of Canada. We must go taste bourbon in Tennessee and/or Kentucky. We must go see the wine country in California. We must go visit Key West, and dive the reefs out there. We want to go cruising again, to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, everywhere! So many more places to go and so many more experiences waiting. We'll see y'all out there!


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Do it! Do it ALL!!! So glad to hear about your adventures.

We’re just finishing up our first trip to Mexico! Met soooo many Canadians down here, that now we just HAVE to head north and visit some old friends and new friends on the other side of the other wall! Maybe on our way up to visit Alaska. Still plenty of places to go in between the northern and southern borders, but that blue passport needs some more stamps!


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