Hi… I started this blog post over a month ago… The first sentence is: I am spinning at the moment. So much so, that well, this is over a whole month late. I really want to write about our experiences, so it might not be exactly on time, but it’s better late than never.
This is one hell of a rollercoaster ride and I’ve never been more grateful for my little space of the Internet, so I can do what always helps me, and that’s write and jot it all down. It also serves as a bit of a diary for me, which is always great to read back on.
The first week of March was intense! I think we completely underestimated the magnitude of our move. On Monday and Tuesday we had people coming in and out of our apartment to fetch furniture they had bought.
We are selling everything and the only things we are taking on a container, are sentimental items and some items that we don’t want to replace. Things like sentimental books and coffee table books, art works, photographs, some kitchen items, like our special Caroll Boyes items and Le Creuset, Alessi and so on, and clothes. I purged and have literally whittled our sentimental items/essentials right down. As for my wardrobe, I got it right down to essentials and items I absolutely love. I know. Our wardrobes should always be like that, but after this exercise I’ve realised, sickeningly so, that I am a hoarder and I’ve been an enabler of fast fashion. Hopefully I won’t fall into that trap again.
On Wednesday, 03 March 2021, Kings International Movers arrived and they whizzed in, packed everything up for us and were gone within a few hours. It was quite something to witness. They pack for you, for insurance purposes and their expertise… and all we did was show and point out what needed to be packed and what needed to be left. They then packed up the truck with our few boxes and moved onto Dimitra’s apartment, where she did the same. Between the 2 apartments, we got everything down to 7 cubic meters. It’s quite bizarre to think that your whole life can be packed into such a small space – for 3 adults and 2 kids.
What was left, was all the things we hadn’t sold and items that needed to be tossed or donated. We had Mary Poppins arrive – Claire, from her company “Dial a PA.” She came in with her team and helped us remove the rest. She will be storing some items and selling them for us. It was intense and it took us another 2 days to get the apartment empty. So grateful to have the help.
It was sad to leave our apartment in Normanhurst… it’s where George turned 1 years old and took his first steps. He went from being a “drunk baby Giraffe” to a jumping, running toddler/little boy. It’s where we brought a brand new newborn, Alexi, home and became a family of 4. It’s where we spent lockdown, building forts under the dining room table, making banana pancakes and had Sox DJ’ing from the balcony, creating “Balcony sessions” on Sunday nights. It’s where we made some incredible friends too, and as we took a walk through the empty apartment and a final pic on the balcony I had spent sooo many hours on, I swallowed a massive lump in my throat and felt sadness, but gratitude. It was weird to be leaving a place, not knowing exactly where we would be living in a months time.
We moved into a hotel in Camps Bay, Place on the Bay for our final month in SA. It’s fantastic and what a place to enjoy our last month of Cape Town. It’s a 2 bedroom duplex with 2 bathrooms, a kitchenette, a lounge area and dining area. The boys are sharing a room and it’s been a mini experiment to see if it works. So far, so good. They’ve only woken each other up a few times, but I’d say 90% of the time it’s been great. We often wake up to the sound of the boys laughing together, and you know it’s going to be a great day when that happens.
As for the boys, they’ve been champions. All this upheaval and they’re adjusting so well. We’ve had no real issues and it’s another reminder that kids are so resilient. Sox and I have done our best to make it as much of an adventure as possible, to get them (and us) excited. It’s also been really important for us to talk to them about what’s happening, and not just assume that because they’re so little, they won’t understand. Maybe they don’t get it completely, but the communication is open.
George kept asking: “Are we going to Greece today or tomorrow?” His concept of time is literally so present, so I decided to print out a calendar, draw a little aeroplane and we would move it, with prestik each day! It was really fun! Of course, when we made the decision to extend our departure, I had to re-do this and George wasn’t too happy, but we turned it into a new game.
So, why we did we extend our time frame from 24 March – 03 April 2021? We still had so many things to do, even though we were in the hotel. I felt like my giant to do list was only growing by the day, and while I was ticking items off, I would wake up at 2am- 3am, remembering to add another 3-4 things. It felt like we were never going to get done. Sox also started getting in more gigs – boy, were we thankful. After a year of not working because of Covid, getting these gigs & weddings was a real silver lining. It would have been too insane to get our to-do lists done, with his gigs and it would mean not being able to see friends to say
goodbye see you real soon. Even though part of me was like: Argh, can we just get there already? because living in limbo is really unsettling; the other part of me felt a sense of relief. It felt like a huge weight off our shoulders with that extra time.
Sox and I each had 4 to-do-list pages. This is to give you a small idea of my to-do list: Going to the Dentist, going to the Gynae for a Pap smear, but I sadly never got to tick off going to the Chiropractor for an alignment. Oh, I’m feeling it.
We got our International Driver’s licenses, cancelled our SABC TV License – in fact, a friend told me to do this, because they didn’t and when they returned to SA, they’d been blacklisted. Ouch. I had some social media campaigns to conceptualise, photograph / film & edit and so on. I had to sell off baby items, sell some clothes, smaller pieces of furniture. And Ooh my gosh, I lost 3 hours of my life at the bank. So, I don’t know if this is just us, but over the YEARS, we’ve just saved coins / tossed coins from my wallet or whatever, into jars. Well, in all our moves over the years, those jars of silver and copper have just been popped in a box and into the backs of cupboards. We’ve never had to think about them, even though they’ve certainly come in handy when we’ve needed change.
That’s the thing with an international move. You have to tie up all loose ends on things and normally things you’d never even think of – like, for example, loose change. It’s not like a holiday, where if you forget something, you can replace it, or you can just lock up your home and go. You have to get rid of everything / find a new place for everything, since you can’t really leave anything behind.
So, back to the bank. I took bags and jars of coins to the bank, thinking that in 2021, there would be a coin counter/sorter. Silly me. Instead, the teller handed me a wad of plastic bankies and I had to separate all the coins, and then put them into the bankies in the number of coins specified. Do you know how often I had to start counting again, because I’d lose count and have to start again? Or I’d second guess myself? HOURS. OF. MY. LIFE. GONE.
After doing that in the bank, I then took all the little bankies and handed them to the teller, who then weighed them and gave me the notes. I then had to deposit via the ATM. Look, it all adds up, but boy it was painful. It’s these little things (time consuming things) that I’d never thought of before, until we had to move and we had to do something with.
Oh and in amongst all of this, Sox had a car accident… so the car we needed to sell, now needed to be fixed first and we had to do an insurance claim. Luckily he was unhurt, but the car had major damage. So that added onto our to-do list. Of course, a week later, our other car broke down on the side of the road, we needed that to be towed and fixed before we could sell it too. I remember Sox and I just being soooo frustrated, like WHY? Seriously, why now?
AND… the boys and I got sick. Alexi started with a snotty nose. Then George woke up with a high fever, but no other symptoms. I couldn’t break his fever and at midday, I took him to the doctor. Of course, in these times, I panicked that it could be Covid. Our doc told me that it was highly unlikely and there was another virus going around, especially in kids, that wasn’t Covid related. That night, at 9pm, I finally managed to break his fever and the next day George woke up as if nothing had happened. It was 2 days later that he got a snotty nose and a cough. Alexi then started with a fever too and a day later, I got sick with the high fever and the head cold. It was crazy. I felt rotten and it was awful timing (is it ever good timing to get sick?) because I had this to-do list of 1001 errands and we were taking a flight in a few days. I was panicking that we would get a positive Covid test, and then what?? We had already extended our stay at the hotel by another 10 days (from the 24th March – 03 April) – could we extend again? Would it then affect our Air Bnb stay in Greece? It was stressful.
Besides all of this, we did find ourselves being extremely nostalgic about South Africa and Cape Town. When I moved to Cape Town, from Johannesburg, I vowed that I would never take living by the sea for granted. I proudly honoured that, but suddenly I realised that I had in fact taken for granted a few things, like: I’ve never climbed Lions Head. That was on our list, but we never got to do it. I’ve promised I will on my next visit.
The hardest part was the goodbyes. We have the most incredible group of friends and again, we don’t take them for granted at all, but we do take for granted that they’re around the corner, that you can see them for a coffee, a braai, a prom walk whenever you please, and that made the reality of this hard. BUT, when we made our final decision in Covid lockdowns, our friendship bonds were made stronger and we found creative ways to stay in touch, just like we will in the move. Still, there were lots and lots of tears.
We thought we needed to have Covid tests done 72 hours before the flight, but instead, it’s 72 hours from the time you arrive in Greece, so we calculated and off we went… We went to the old Christiaan Barnard hospital, drove to the 5th floor and went through the Drive Thru.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected – uncomfortable, yes! The key is to relax and not tense your face. Well that was my strategy anyway, and I think you can tell from the pics of Sox and I.
We were so relieved to get 3 x NEGATIVE results for Sox, Dimitra and myself. Phew!
If you’ve read until the end, you’re pretty amazing. Thank you for your time. I could go on and on, but my goodness. It’s a blog, not a novel.
I have SO MUCH to share and I’m working on it all… The WiFi at the Air Bnb is painfully slow, so uploading images is taking a while, but we will get there!