Monday, 22 June 2015

Guest Post - Living in South Africa by Mademoiselle Nomad

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Living for 2 years on a conservancy area in South Africa and 5 reasons to love it:

When I landed in South Africa, I was expecting to be blown away by the immensity of land. I could already picture hectares of farm land stretch beyond, with cows grazing in the horizon and myself, sitting under the African sky. I knew I would experience a culture different to my own island (Mauritius) and I also knew it would be an awesome opportunity to be close to lions, giraffes, etc. So much wildlife all for me and opportunities to impress my friends and family back from this cool trip! Little did I know though that what started out as one-month fun holiday turned out to be 8 years (and counting). I arrived with one suitcase in Limpopo, in a small town known as Polokwane and stayed there for 2 years. Thereafter, I moved to the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town where I currently reside.

Here's my experience living on a conservancy area in Limpopo, South Africa and 5 reasons to love it:

1. The quiet pace of life

In the bushveld, it often felt to me as if time had stopped. There were no cars hooting all over the place, no traffic, not even shopping malls or crowded streets. All I could see was vast land, all I could hear were birds chirping and there was no rush to go or be anywhere. Nature enchants you and makes you feel light-hearted, less stressed and you can see things more clearly. Nature has this way to quieten even the busiest of minds and the calmness of that environment leaves you feeling rejuvenated. I enjoyed daily walks, being in contemplation at the beauty of creation and moving at the same pace of nature - you get up with the sun rays floating in your bedroom and you go to bed when it gets dark.

2. The fauna

The great thing about being on a game farm is to enjoy the abundance of fauna around
you. In the morning, I would hear birds chirping by my bedroom window and this would be followed by the occasional roar of lions. You could go, camera in hand, for a lovely morning game drive and spot giraffes, zebras, boks and a bunch of other animals. Not only did they make great pictures but it was so much fun to see and watch them in their natural habitat.

3. Facing your fears

Being a girl from the tropical island of Mauritius, in a small town, it was mind-blowing at first to know that I was in such a big country. South Africa is huge! It took me 3 hours to drive from the airport in Johannesburg to where I stayed in Limpopo, the kind of drive one would never do on the island because it's so tiny that it would take you only about an hour from North to South. I faced a few of my biggest fears there: being in a foreign country, driving long distances, enjoying evenings where you can't see any city lights, the fierce thunderstorms and being in a small town where there is hardly any Chinese-Mauritian looking person (other than me, of course).

4. Embracing time alone

Situated about 25 kms from the heart of town, being on the conservancy area meant having a lot of time with nothing to do and nobody to be with. I was living in a hotel, so that was not bad at all, however there was little to entertain me. Besides safaris and nature walks, there wasn't much exploring to do. The town itself had one small shopping mall and a handful of restaurant franchises, plus a few really nice ones. Once you've visited them, you've done them all! This gave me a lot of time on my own where I learned to embrace and cherish the space I had to myself - plenty of time for reading, gardening and baking fresh bread.

5. Opening up to new experiences 

Learning to go trout-fishing, making your own floral arrangements out of the flowers you pick on your walks and trying game meat for dinner certainly opens you up to new experiences. Living in rural South Africa has shown me that there is so much more to the world, that even though people here live differently, this does not mean less good. In fact, it allowed me to grow in many ways as I learned to say yes to things I normally wouldn't, such as feeding horses, going for a safari drive by night and walking with lions. It enabled me to meet new people, see how they live, what they eat and also learn to cook like they do.

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