I’m not an expert on life, just human, and hope that by sharing this past week’s emotions with you, I touch someone somewhere……
As this blog has a two-fold reason to exist, one being to assist me in filling my days and the other to keep my loved ones up to date with what is going on in my life, I have resisted from writing for the past week in case everyone reading it could sense my total despair at the perceived dilemma we found ourselves in. Writing or Skyping is worse when one feels like death, as it certainly is no good for the reader or Skype contact, sitting thousands of miles away, unable to help dry the tears with a touch or a hug.
For many people world-wide the recession that bit deeply into household pockets and company profits recently, brought with it many hours of pacing up and down the passage in my beautiful home in Cape Town during the wee hours of the night, contemplating financial decisions.
Girlfriends gathered around my plush diningroom table for sharing and caring sessions on Saturday mornings, lamenting the drop in business, income and morale. And we thought the end of the world as we had known it had come!
And I sold the large home, through tears and misery, moved to a smaller place, squeezed in the bits of furniture I had left after the big sell-off, and tried to get comfortable. I now had a garden the size of a postage stamp, no pool, no triple garage, let alone the 10 bedrooms and 5 bathroom space I was used to!
The property leads off a bumpy dirt road towards the sea, past some small mud huts and some other newer homes, and is surrounded by small crop fields, where the locals struggle to grow veggies – good soil, but little rain this year. Goats and roosters can be heard and let’s not forget the odd blood curdling screams from a woman being beaten in the small of the night, or a dog yelping when being hurt. Stray cats live on our garbage dump, a thin old woman lies close by in a ruin, and at least one child in the house in front of us gets beaten by his mother almost daily. And we were growing tired of the same old scenes, almost incredulous that one can grow tired of what seems like paradise on the surface. BUT, it is pretty, I can see the sea from my bed upstairs, the animals can run around freely, we feel safe and the locals are becoming so friendly, greeting us everywhere.
YET, we miss the change in weather as only the Cape can produce, the flowers on the West Coastand up to Namaqualand this time of year, we hear with envy that it snowed in the midst of Johannesburg, I miss a good haircut, a spa treatment, Woolworths’ food and my loved ones. And the days dragged on, more weary every day, with depression slowly but surely creeping into our every move. And it did not help that Sakkie left for Cape Town on Monday morning – I was green with envy wishing I was on the same flight home, even for just a visit!
After a glimmer of hope that we may eventually move to Zanzibar at the beginning of September, we booked a trip to go house-hunting. I found a small, delightful, budget but clean hotel in Stonetown – The Clove Hotel. Our hosts were helpful and friendly, the breakfast adequate, the bed comfortable and all within walking distance to some touristy places like the House of Wonders– a ruin of a bygone era when sultans still ruled.
As it is Ramadhan, and no smoking, eating drinking or kissing is allowed on the streets during the hours between sunrise and sunset, we took care to respect these unwritten rules, and drank delightful Fanta apple and citrus cooldrinks in the Indian shop around the corner instead of on the street. I had read up about the feasts laid out at night when the Muslims break their daily fast, and we were Peeping Toms from our bedroom window, looking down on a small courtyard of a neighbouring property where the family sat down on a mat specially laid out after sunset, with huge pots full of food, plates, spoons and cups for drinking – a merry picture. And I felt forlorn – missing family gatherings. The recreation garden on the beach got filled with food stalls and an array of sea-food, samoosas, Swahili style pancakes and sugar-cane juice with a dash of ginger, all laid out on tables with lantern light, made for a festive bazaar-like atmosphere.
Even though we were there to look at houses, we also made use of the weekend to relax and enjoy time away from the house in Kigamboni, and we strolled around sampling all the fare. The area was also filled with stray cats in their hundreds, all waiting to catch a morsel thrown at them by a caring diner.
So on to the house-hunting. We saw about 10 homes, ranging from the dourest, most pokey places to palaces. Wasted space due to bad, bad planning by architects, opulent over-the-top furnishings from the Middle East, palaces with shambas between the plot and the beach, and ruins occupied by squatters flanking it, properties with waves lapping onto the back walls, some cold and uninviting, some small, but warm and homely, and then finally we found what we were looking for on the Sunday morning just before boarding the Azam Marine Ferry back to Dar. Neat, modern and super clean – little maintenance and we left Zanzibar hoping that we would be back soon, and settled into this delightful home.
Well, not to be, it seems, yet. The powers that be still has to do some more paperwork for the farm and so we found ourselves this week feeling lost, despondent, tired, moerig, sad, helpless, depressed, panicky etc etc etc. And I say this with disdain to ourselves! The spiral that encompasses all these emotions can suck one in so fast, your head gets spinning and you gasp for air – literally and figuratively! It all came to a head when Kobus came home after actually going into work on a public holiday, not any the wiser, seething at the waste of having gotten up at the crack of dawn only to get to an empty office. And we sat down, through holding on to each other and some tears, and we realised a few things: The traditions / culture / circumstances / area / people / weather around us will never change for us. We have a choice, we either change our attitude, or we sink. We thought back on our lives and we realised that many a time, even amongst the perceived better living conditions we had, we were unhappy – with people, whether it was our friends betraying us, an ex-spouse causing us misery, the weather not playing along to our plans on a particular day, Jerry Springer – style behaviour from either ourselves or amongst our social circles, family woes etc etc etc.
And so we made the decision to start living – as from the next pay-cheque we are going to buy a small item of furniture every month, a shelf to pack my un-packed crockery and ornaments on, a small cupboard for toiletries in the bathroom, so that my wardrobe is less cluttered with bottles which allows me to unpack more of my clothes. We are going to unwrap the paintings and hang them, buy some curtains for the bare windows. We will get rid of the badly fitting mosquito net and make a proper wooden frame around our bed for a better fitting mosquito net, we will join the other expats at the Thai Village for a beer or two on a Saturday afternoon whilst watching some sport on the big screen, and turn a deaf ear to their moans about our home country, South Africa, or their host country, Tanzania. We will take our dogs out for sundowners at Mikadi Beach Resort, where the kind owner, Joey (an ex-Rhodesian) allows them in with us, we will learn Kiswahili and we will try and imitate the Strictly Come Dancing stars on our vast bedroom floor. We will get our askari gardeners to take out some of the grass areas in our huge garden (more beautiful than anything we’ve ever had), and plant our own vegetables which we will share with them and their families.
And we will guard against getting so negative and depressed, and remember that life was not a bed of roses in Cape Town , or any other place for that matter either. But perhaps we are able to create a more rose-tinted existence if we concentrate on the here and now, the blessings of being alive and healthy, and the opportunity to experience the adventure!
- Are we ever satisfied with our lot in life? (suletta.com)
- The Waiting game – hakuna matata – kesho ni siku nyingine – no problem -tomorrow is another day (suletta.com)
- The week that was – part 2: Sea Urchins – oh the PAIN!!!!! (suletta.com)
- A weary Suletta in Kigamboni (suletta.com)
- The Ferries of Dar es Salaam (suletta.com)
- Jackie – An African dog’s travel (b)log (suletta.com)
- The week that was: Zanzibar before all the disasters (suletta.com)
- From Malmesbury to Kigamboni (suletta.com)
- The week that was – sinking of Skagit ferry, sea urchins, snotty noses and sore stomachs (suletta.com)
- African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, Cape Town opens new nail bar (south-african-hotels.com)