NOTE TO READERS: My comments are purely from my experience in America. I have no knowledge about countries like New Zealand and Australia. It would be a good thing if some of the Saffas in those countries could come and enlighten us. We know Saffas are generally happy in the UK if they can get used to mud and no sunshine. Family and Friends: Coming back here for holidays and taking them back to the airport when they visited us killed me. One of the most desolate feelings must be getting back into your car at the airport and seeing your family off. You drive back to your house and it feels as if you had packed most of yourself into their suitcases. Don’t let them visit you in December while you have to shovel the snow out of your driveway. You resent every shove thinking of the sun back home. Let them come in July when you can show them the fireworks on Independence Day. America in winter is a cruel landscape and not a place for South Africans. The New Culture: You have to prepare yourself to go and accept a whole new culture. Stop thinking like a South African. I didn’t do this. Stubbornly clung onto my South African culture. Moaned and groaned everyday about the snail’s pace it takes for things to happen there. In this article I am not going to sugar coat racial issues because that is almost everybody’s motivation to pack. Believe me when I tell you that you will be kissing our black brothers if you ever return for a visit. The cultures you are accustomed to are so vastly different from what you are about to discover. Just because we move to a “white” country doesn’t mean we will blend. Our frame of reference is completely Greek to them. They have no clue about what happened in this country pre 94 or after it and don’t tell intellectuals over there that blacks have become a problem. You can say that to Rednecks (factory workers) because they hate the African Americans. But keep your trap shut in Washington DC and LA. They all think Africa is one country and Mandela is President of Africa. Are you laughing? Ask them. You need to read my next sentence very carefully. Americans have a very low standard of education and they are not the brightest sparks in the fireworks. I have met people that haven’t been outside of the city they live in, in 30 years. They huddle in spaces they know. They don’t travel like we do. My wife presented her passport as a form of identification at a bank one day and the teller asked my wife if she also would need a passport if she went to Las Vegas for a holiday. No kidding! Make sure you know what you are politically. You can’t go live in certain states and vote for the Democrats. They will hang you out for biltong. Don’t tell anybody in America you come from a place where gay people can marry each other. They will think you are from the Devil. Best is not to mention the word gay unless you are in San Francisco. You think Africans have a problem with gays? Try Americans. Get a few tattoos. You need to blend. Tattoo your Granny’s birthday in Chinese on your forearm. It will make you look like a Kung Fu fighter. A sword on your back will also look cool and menacing. I was going to explain where women should get tattoos but that would be a bit explicit and not suitable for religious people to read. Food: Get yourself a source for your chutney and chocolate if you need those consumables. There is no way in hell you can get American chocolate into your body. It is the vilest tasting stuff you have ever tasted. If you are health conscious you are in for a surprise. Everything is processed and has health risks. Organic food is difficult to come by and kettles don’t exist there. You boil your water on the stove. Don’t laugh. No electric kettles. Say goodbye to your Nescafe coffee and Twining’s Tea. Kiss and hug the jar and shed a tear. You are going to brew coffee in a coffee maker every time you want to relax. No quick boiling of water and a spoon of this rich aroma stuff we know. But you will have Starbucks to compensate. Biltong? Brace yourself for Jerky. No no not that kind of jerking jerky. Dried beef strips. It is red and tastes like hell. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. You will come across Cheese Cake Factory and then you will think you have died and gone to a heaven. You will enjoy Saturday mornings because you will be cutting coupons from the newspaper. You have to learn this art quickly. If you shop smartly you get a box of Corn Flakes and get paid one cent because you had a coupon. Sound unbelievable? You get paid to take a product? It became a whole lot of fun. We bought two papers on a Saturday and cut coupons like lunatics. You buy a special file for coupons and as you cut you file. When you go shopping, you are armed with the file and shop according to your saved coupons. Our record was ending up with a total of $96 for the month’s food. We could feed all of Africa if we had the coupon system here. Big Fun! Accent: Get with the program and get that American accent as soon as possible. Your kids are going to talk like Americans within 3 months of your arrival and you then become an embarrassment to your own kids with your South African accent. This is a very serious matter. Your kids are going to blend in long before you catch the train so just do the accent and get on with life. What happens is when you say “grass” and “can’t” the way we say it, Americans stop listening when they hear this strange word and don’t hear the rest of your sentence. You end up repeating every sentence until you just stop communicating with them like I did. I ended up having the minimum conversation with anybody. Medical expenses: Best is to book a flight back home and come see your local man of healing. It will be cheaper. You have a migraine? You are going to ask your pharmacist for a pain killer? Advil is all you are going to get. He could be jailed, sued and loose his license if he gives you any medication the doctor hasn’t prescribed. The doctor is going to give you some sleeping pills? What if you decide to drink all of them simultaneously? The doctor loses his licence and could be jailed. I am astounded America has anybody qualifying as doctors. It is a life from hell. Social Life: There are South African clubs all over America. Don’t join! Please don’t join. You are going to spend your get-togethers listening to disgruntled people all night long. You will know more about the ANC than you know now. That is all they moan about. That and how much they miss their Mercedes Benzes. You won’t be making tons of friends. Americans don’t like strange aliens from other planets. Most nights we did chores and knew everything that was going on in the world because Internet is free. You can blog and surf all day long for free. Internet becomes your best friend and a salvation for your lonely soul. The Kids: The peer pressure is scary. I watched other South Africans how the relationship between them and their kids just completely fell apart. Our son was too small to get any damage, and I came back in time to save him. Of all the issues I have brought up about leaving, the kids issue is probably the most important issue you will have to deal with. You have to say goodbye to your kids as you know them now. They will blend into their new surroundings and embrace their new culture. They will chew gum while they speak to people and freak you out completely. Girls as young as 13 are giving each other lectures on oral sex. They don’t wait for another 3 years like the ones here. Sex becomes an important issue to them much earlier. At 16 they have driver’s licenses, so be prepared for insurance bills like you have never heard of. They are going to marry Americans. If you have sons, say goodbye to them when they marry. The new daughter-in-law will freak you out. She is going to call you by your name and treat you as if you are some strange phenomenon from hell. Better you teach your son how to clean a house because he won’t be lounging on the coach while she cleans. Get used to the fact that your grandkids will get MacDonald’s for breakfast on their way to school. Are you horrified? Don’t be. That is the American way. They don’t cook like we do. Drive Thru meals are on the horizon for your cute porky grandkids. You won’t be allowed to say a word because remember you are this hound from African hell. Don’t ever yell at your kids. You will be charged with child abuse. Two South African doctors, one in Arizona and one in Colorado had their kids taken away from them. The Colorado one smacked his screaming two year old in a department store and before they got to the check-out point the cops “saved” the kid. Best is never to take your naughty two year old out into public spaces. We kept ours locked away at home, just in case some crazy old bat got any strange ideas what should be done to our child. The Arizona doctor yelled at his teenage daughter at a shopping centre that she couldn’t go out because she was grounded. He lost his cool as they were getting out of the car. He was reported and when they arrived back at the car the cops stuffed him into the cop car. Don’t drive with a child under the age of 12 on the front seat of the car. You will go to jail. Papa wag vir djou! Cars: Cars are cheap. If you are not full of nonsense like me, you can drive for almost nothing around there. Insurance is a major issue however. Don’t make accidents. Never make an accident! You will be sued without exception. This is the most common way in which Americans make a quick buck. They all claim you caused them a neck injury and they can never work again. A few million Dollars further you wish you rather walked and never touched a car ever. They won’t hijack you? This only a South African occurrence? Yes? Then don’t buy a Honda or any minibus and don’t live close to Mexican borders. They steal as many cars in the Southern states of America as they do here, if not more. Mexicans will kill for a Honda. Get some good sunglasses. The cars have very shiny wheels. All you see are these shiny illuminated round things on which the car rides and if the car is black, it looks like a horror wagon from the movie Dracula kidnaps Mary the horny Virgin. Make sure you don’t get speeding tickets like I did. Don’t be cheeky with cops. They have a gun and will use it. You think this is an exaggeration? Two cops testimony against yours? Taxes: Make sure that tax return tells about every cent you have earned. Don’t think you are going to trade off-shore like I did and get away with it! You will have your bank account frozen. This sounds hectic? Don’t try it. Your social security number (American ID number) is as good as tattooed into your penis shaft and they know when you go for a wee. Divorce: Your anti-nuptial contract you have now will have no bearing in America. If you leave your wife she will get half of everything. Rightly so. You don’t divorce your wife after you have taken her away from her country of birth. Life for a divorced mother in America is unadulterated hell. So if you don’t have a sound marriage, stay here. Property: Be very careful. Transfer of property doesn’t happen in the organised legal manner it does here. You need to check your title deed on a monthly basis. If someone has a crooked transferring agent (escrow agents) they can transfer your property into their name without you even knowing. They can check what your outstanding mortgage is on Internet because it is public knowledge and settle the mortgage you have been paying off for 10 years and claim you owed them money and then they foreclose on your house. Your title deed gets recorded on an internet database with your signature in full view of the world. So a good forger does your signature on any document you have never seen before and you are out on the street. We had this nightmare happen to us. I bought a vacant stand with some of the money we saved up. Nice stand in a golf estate. The houses had to be of a certain value, so we couldn’t build at that given time; while we saved up for the house the land lay vacant. When we decided to return to South Africa, I approached an estate agent to sell our stand, just to find out we are no longer the owners. You think we are living a lawless life here? Howdy Cowboy, pass me them smokin’ gun ye holdin’.