I have just returned from South Africa where I combined a press trip for Thomas Cook in Durban with a visit to my old home, Cape Town. Even though I was traveling in the middle of South African winter I was beyond stoked to have an opportunity to see my friends and family, eat some of my favorite grub, and just to see the South African sky again.

As soon as I set foot on South African soil, no actually as soon as I boarded my SAA plane, I felt not only at home but already adopting certain South African mannerisms. Well, for me that mainly meant greeting any- and everybody with the word Howzit?!, a word you will only know and appreciate if you have been to South Africa. What else? Here I give you my top 29 sure signs you have been to South Africa lately.

1) You can name at least half of all 11 official languages of South Africa and know how to greet in Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans. You also know that the one greeting that connects them all is “Howzit” and you use it overjoyed and way too frequently upon your return with hopes that someone will reply in kind.

2) China, bru, kiff and lekker are some other new additions to your traveler’s dictionary.

3) You know the difference between now, now now and just now. And you have come to accept that African time doesn’t have a phrase for jetzt, as in right now.


4) Upon return from Africa, you have adapted to the thing called African Time (enforced by the aforementioned now, now now and just now) which means that in the rest of the world, you are now officially late.

5) You think it is completely normal when a guy shows up to a date wearing flip flops. Also, in general, you think there is nothing wrong with men in sarongs and you know that they are really called kikoys.

6) Banting is so much more than making noise and don’t you know it. When you leave the country you miss Woolworths’ choices of courgette spaghetti and cauliflower rice dearly – delicious staples of this low-carb, high-fat eating trend.


7) Walking around barefoot in public including stores, bars and restaurants is completely acceptable. As is driving barefoot (although you know that it is technically still illegal and can put them on in one swift move should you get pulled over).


8) After a few weeks of driving in South Africa, you are very likely to get a speeding ticket when you get back home. Why can’t every city have a speed limit of 60kmh instead of 50kmh??

9) Road tripping is the best in South Africa! You know to lay your route out according to where you can find the best Engens to load up on potkos (snacks for the road) and Wimpy’s, and you’re completely lost when returning to a country that doesn’t have these landmarks to go by.


10) You know that Ronnie isn’t selling sex at his Sex Shop but still like to shock your parents with antics from your trip there.

11) From now on you voluntarily get up early on the weekends. After all, there are mountains to be hiked, waves to be surfed, marathons to be run and sunrises to be seen. It does help with the motivation to realize that a lot of South African guys are going that topless – something that may be a disappointing expectation upon returning home.


12) When nobody sings your coffee order back to you at Starbucks, you wonder: Vida E, where art thou?

13) But actually you really miss coffee from Truth, Deluxe or Origin, always offered with a double shot and brewed to perfection by a bearded hipster.


14) You know that Woolworths has the nicer selection of chia seeds, micro herbs and cut veggies, but Pick’n Pay has more hot guys shopping after work.

15) You tell the tales of how you have seen the Big Five, swam with penguins, dived with sharks, and had your lunch stolen from a baboon. Not necessarily in that order.



16) Passenger limits to buses are completely negotiable – Why only fit 12 when you can easily fit double?, you ask, surely that is not economical!

17) There are locals and there are visitors and you can tell at the airport who is who. In 24 degrees visitors take their jerseys off, locals put them on. By now you agree with the locals, and think anything under 24 degrees is unacceptably cold and bundle up lest you catch a cold.


18) Once upon a time you thought it acceptable to drink wine from a carton and out of paper cups, but now you know so much better. You know your Pinotage from your Shiraz, your Cabernet Sauvignon (lovingly called Cab Sauv) from your Chardonnay. And of course, you would never consider yourself an ABC girl (Anything But Chardonnay) because you know many amazing unoaked versions.


19) You have eaten it all: Biltong, crocodile, pap, samp and beans, mopane worms, chicken livers, kudu streak and ostrich omelet.


20) You call it braai, not barbecue.

21) And you have accepted that braaing is (and probably always will be) a man’s work. That’s fine. You know to let them have it, sit back and admire the goods, and just pour yourself another glass of that Cab Sauv.


22) On your playlist you have Freshly Ground, die Antwoord, Goldfish, Jeremy Loops and Jack Parrow.

23) You also know a few lines of ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and aren’t afraid to sing it aloud and with gusto.


24) Rugby ain’t football and cricket isn’t baseball – you know the difference and have a favorite team. When it comes to soccer your heart will always beat for Bafana Bafana – after all, there has never been a more unsuccessful, but enthusiastic underdog than the “the boys, the boys”.

25) You don’t leave your bag out of sight or unattended and if a stranger comes closer, you automatically hold it a bit tighter.

26) Paragliding from Lion’s Head, bungee jumping from Bloukraans Bridge, Skydiving in Worcester, hiking high up in the Drakensberg – the sky is literally your limit in South Africa. And once you have done that you know the sky is bluer than blue here. That statement only makes sense to someone who has been in South Africa and has seen that blue up close and in person.

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27) You don’t know how to put petrol in your car anymore. Where are the petrol attendants?

28) Chicken – one dish to bring a nation together. Whether it is Nando’s, KFC or an organic hipster chicken, you don’t know how you have ever used utensils to eat chicken and not scraped every last bit off the bones.


29) The heart chakra of the world beats in South Africa. Whether you are esoterically inclined or not, you believe it.


Have you been to South Africa and do you share any of these sentiments? Is there anything else that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!