Thanksgiving in SA

Thanksgiving in SA


While our friends and family in the states celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, we were able to celebrate on Sunday with an eclectic group of friends.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with their parents, aunts & uncles, and maybe cousins. Some give thanks for what they have by providing a meal to someone less fortunate, some just enjoy the company of family and friends.

As an Expat, I was prepared to forgo the traditional turkey and make do with what we were able to cobble together. It was looking like it was going to be a sad version of the times we had spent with our Thanksgiving family. This is where our network of expats came in and saved us from a sad and lonely event.

We had 7 Americans, 4 South Africans, a Briton, a Canadian, and an Italian. For several of the non-Americans, this was their first exposure the Thanksgiving experience.  For the Americans, it was a bit strange to be eating our Thanksgiving meal when it was nearly 75/24 outside. But the view more than made up for it.  Oh, we suffered.

Most guests brought a side to share, we ended up with a pretty great mix of dishes in addition to the two turkeys. P made green bean casserole that was a huge hit with everyone. I think a few folks got a bit nostalgic. There was a tomato casserole, a corn pudding, sweet potato bake, stuffing, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, and finally a salad.

And on a personal high note, the lone Italian (who had never had mac and cheese before) was impressed with my version. So much so that she requested the recipe and asked if I’d be offended if she made it but called it something else so that her Italian friends and family wouldn’t shun her. I was more than happy to oblige.

In typical fashion, I think everyone ate too much, and the host encouraged everyone to take some leftovers home.  While it wasn’t Thanksgiving with our Thanksgiving family, we had a great time, made some new friends, and have even more to be thankful for. 

Life as an expat ain’t too bad. 


Postal Service

One of the things that Americans take for granted is the USPS (United States Postal Service). It has always worked pretty reliably for me and is affordable. For an organization that handles over 160 billion pieces of mail a year to only have occasional delays is pretty amazing.  In South Africa, the Postal Service is only reliable for its unreliability.

Our home doesn’t even have a mailbox. We’ve occasionally arrived home to see a letter stuck in the door. These letters have been addressed to a different house number or been for a person no longer living at the address.

Since we’ve been in SA a few friends have gotten married. When asked for our address, we provided P’s work address hoping that the SAPO (South African Post Office) would complete delivery to a business more timely than to a residence.  In both cases, the invitations took over 3 months to arrive and arrived after the actual wedding date. Thankfully our friends let us know via other means.

Most folks recommend paying a little extra to use a courier service like UPS for any international shipments. This can get pretty expensive for day to day mail, so we just avoid using it all together.

I don’t know the causes for the delays. It could be underfunding, lack of skilled labor, poor training, or just not caring. It does appear that this is a long-term issue that everyone just accepts.

The moral of the story is: don’t trust that the SAPO will complete a delivery in a timely fashion.

Ciao for now