Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa


Before I moved to South Africa, my Canadian host organization Rooftops Canada sent me various resources to help me move from a developed country to a less-developed country.  I recently tried to find those resources in my email, but they had disappeared.  I probably deleted them since they were mostly useless – no amount of online quizzes is going to teach me common sense – but one particular concept stuck with me.

The writer that specific article argued that when most people move somewhere different for an extended period of time, they go through cycles of honeymoon periods and disillusionment.

For example, you land in J’burg.  It’s hot and sunny.  The people are friendly.  The food is delicious.  You love it!  You love every bit of this country!  You’re in a honeymoon period.

Then you start seeing some of those warnings you read about with your own eyes.  You have an attempted hijacking as you drive through the city.  You experience racism first hand.  That man you were infatuated with turns out to be a selfish jerk – and even though patriarchy and disrespect are worldwide phenomenon, you can’t help but direct some of your anger at the city of J’burg and stupid South Africa.

You’re in the disillusionment part of your cycle.

Then you start to remember how awesome this place is again.  You meet some new people.  Avocados are in season.  You watch the sunset with a Savanna in your hand and thank the universe for your experiences of this place.

Best cider I've ever had

Best cider I’ve ever had

The honeymoon frame of mind is back!

Then someone sideswipes your car while it was parked.  No, the parking attendant didn’t see anything.  You’re pissed off again.

But at least the drinks are cheap, right?

As you may have noticed from my latest posts, I’ve been in a downward disillusionment part of my traveling cycle recently.  But that’ll turn around eventually and my writing tone will become cheerful again.  Most likely, my upward swing will coincide with getting out of the city and back to the ocean or mountains; it’s amazing how much joy and respite can be found in nature.

Regardless, no matter my frustrations or complaints, I really do love this country.  Even though part of me can’t wait to move back home, part of me could live here forever.

But don’t worry friends and family: I won’t.

[Note: not all the things above happened to me personally, but they all happened at least once to people I know.]


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One thought on “Cycles

  1. Sounds like the honeymoon swings I had coming to Japan. @_@

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