Lerato Mkhondo

'San Diego's lifestyle is very similar to Durban'

LISA MUIR explains what it's like to stay in California while her husband Dean plays for the San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby.

We returned to South Africa after Dean's first season with the Legion in 2019, and then came back here in mid-November.

We live in a beautiful neighbourhood called Cardiff-by-the-Sea. It's a 25 to 30-minute drive from the city of San Diego and right on the beach.

We stay in a really cosy, two-bedroom apartment, which is close to some of the most beautiful beaches and trendiest restaurants and coffee shops.

The lifestyle here is very similar to my hometown of Durban, so it's been easy for us to adapt. It's a chilled, relaxed, living-on-the-beach kind of lifestyle. It's maybe just a bit colder here in winter.

When Dean is at training, I hang around at home. During his off-time, we love to head down to the beach, grab a drink and something to eat at one of the cute coffee shops and, of course, have a braai with our friends!

One of my favourite things to do in San Diego is to visit the beautiful flower fields – they are filled with the most beautiful, colourful flowers.

We have been to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Big Bear Lake and Julian in California. I would love to go to Mexico and New York.

One of my favourite places here is La Jolla, a small beach town with some of the most beautiful beaches, which are very similar to those in Cape Town.

I also absolutely love the fact that this city is so dog friendly. I also love the classic California palm trees, the beautiful beaches, the friendly people and the weather.

Dean and I celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary on 22 December. As we were both feeling homesick, we decided to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and spend the day with some of our amazing African wild animals.

We are 10 hours behind South Africa, so when we are waking up, our family and friends back home are getting ready for bed. You just have to find the time to catch up with family and friends back home. I chat with my mom every day. FaceTime is my favourite because it's more personal and I also get to see my dogs!

Everyone in Dean's team and their families is so wonderful, but we have become really close with the other South African players here – Joe Pietersen, JP du Plessis and their wives and kids. We all live in the same neighbourhood and get together quite often.

It always feels like we are back home in South Africa when we are together having a braai. They are amazing people and I am so grateful to have met them. That's one of the best things about rugby – the people you meet along the way.

I'm not sure if we will look to settle permanently in San Diego. I am a really proud South African and my heart is still 100% at home, but who knows what the future holds?

I have to say, it is really nice not having to deal with load-shedding here and the internet connection and speed is fantastic!

It was really hard to leave family and friends behind, but the coaches, staff, players, partners and people of San Diego and California have made us feel so welcome and treated us with such kindness. We miss home but are very lucky to be here.