The adventures of the Els family, who immigrated from South Africa to the USA. Els family in Texas.

Our Immigration: The Short Story

Here is a quick overview of how it came about that we immigrated to the United States and what we were up to after arriving in the US.

South Africa

Until August 1996 we lived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This is definitely one of the best places to live in the country. It is a medium sized city with great beaches, great weather, and the occasional breeze (for some reason some people insist on calling it the "windy" city). Cape Town used to be my favorite city in South Africa, but crime and property prices have escalated so much that it's now probably only a good place to go for a vacation.

Green Card lottery

Then came the opportunity of a lifetime... I happened to be one of the lucky winners in the 1996 Green card lottery. This is a long story, but for now, suffice it to say that after a rough time of preparations, and sad goodbyes, we set off for the United States.

United States of America

So, on September 5, 1996, we arrived at San Francisco International airport. I spent my first seven months in the US working for National TechTeam on a PC support contract in San Francisco. After that I started my programming career at US Fleet Leasing in San Mateo. After living in San Mateo (it's about 20 miles south of San Francisco) for two years, we decided that it was far too expensive to live in the Bay Area. I started looking around and discovered Austin, Texas. On October 20, 1998 we relocated to Austin, and have been living here quite happily ever since.

Other South Africans in the US

We discovered that there are many South Africans living in the San Francisco Bay Area - we were told about 230 families 1996. No doubt, it's a lot more now. We joined the Springbok Club of Northern California, a social club for South Africans with several great events each year.

After arriving in Austin, we didn't have much contact with other South Africans for the first year. We couldn't locate the local Springbok Club and became convinced there weren't many South Africans living in Austin. Luckily we have discovered otherwise - there are a lot of South Africans in Austin; they simply weren't publicized very well.

We then started South Africans in Austin and have organized several great braais. We also sometimes collaborate with other South African organizations in Texas to support events for South Africans.

Cool things in the Bay Area

It didn't take us very long to discover Marine World Africa USA and Paramount's Great America - two great places to have lots of fun. We've also been to Lake Tahoe for some fun in the snow, and to Hawaii for some fun in the sun! (OK, OK, I know Hawaii isn't in the Bay Area, but this was the best place to mention it.) Napa Valley, northeast of the Bay Area, is California's wine region and is another great place that we visited.

Cool things in the Austin Area

Zilker Park is a cool place close to downtown Austin to take the kids to. It has a very nice park for kids to play, a miniature train to ride, and the cool waters of Barton Springs is great on a hot summer's day. Oasis restaurant has a magnificent view over Lake Travis, and if you're into stunning sunsets, this is the place to go. If you're willing to drive a little further, there's Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, which has a lot of fun water rides and a variety of pools for young and not-so-young. About an hour's drive southwest of Austin is San Antonio, which has Splash Town, Sea World, and Fiesta Six Flags. Cancun, Mexico is also only a two-hour flight away. Here is plenty of information on fun things to do in Texas.


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Copyright, John Els