It’s true that you have to be careful in the city. I don’t carry around more than the essentials, I don’t wander off into strange areas, and I don’t go out on my own at night. But really, how often did I do these things in the UK? I’m getting used to walking around Braamfontein during the day, although I am always much more aware of what’s going on around me than I would be in the UK, and if I hear about anything going on in a certain area (it does happen unfortunately), I just avoid it. You quickly get used to all the extra locking, and I’ve discovered that it is actually possible to leave the house without a phone! The only way I do feel that my freedom is limited is not being able to go out for a run in the morning, but as soon as my student card’s sorted I’ll be able to join the uni running club, and in the meantime I’ve found a 5k route around campus that I feel safe running.
South Africa struggles to generate enough power to keep the country running – particularly when there has been wet weather and coal stocks get damp. When there’s not enough power to go around, the power companies introduce load shedding – scheduled blackouts. Each area has a schedule saying when they will lose power, with three different levels depending on how much power needs to be saved. At the moment Eskon are Stage One Load Shedding, which means my region is (Braamfontein 6A) is safe for today. If they are still load shedding tomorrow then I will lose power between 6pm and 10pm, which means cooking dinner before 6 and making sure my laptop is fully charged.
I thought that there was something wrong with me for a while, because I kept getting static shocks every time I touched something metal - at least 10 times a day. I mentioned this to Meira and apparently it's not unusual, and it's caused by the dryness of the air here. Unlike anywhere I've been before, Johannesburg has very dry winters, so the shocks are only going to get worse. I've started using a key to discharge myself before touching anything that's likely to shock me.
Maybe I should have expected this, but the fact is that I’ve never lived in a city before. Sounds from halfway down the street seem like they’re just outside the window, and for the first few nights I’d panic at the slightest noise, thinking someone was about to break into my apartment. I swear I heard gunshots the other night. I bought some earplugs.