This idea that "Africa isn't for sissies" continues to whirl about in my head.
Coming from a well-established suburb in the United States and having lived and worked in large urban metropoleis in the States and Europe, admittedly, I've been spoiled. Nils, growing up in Hamburg, Germany, the same.
I can think of maybe a handful of times in my life when I've gone without a basic like electricity or water (for a few hours max), and my exposure to animals and nature has been of a relatively gentle fashion. So, indeed, life's recently been throwing us challenges to test our levels of sissiness.
- getting older isn't for sissies
- having chronic kidney disease isn't for sissies
- picking up and moving from what has been home and familiar for decades isn't for sissies
- losing a family member isn't for sissies
- having unidentified allergies to foods isn't for sissies
- having any chronic illness isn't for sissies
- losing your job isn't for sissies
- ending a relationship isn't for sissies
- committing to a relationship isn't for sissies
- dealing with infertility isn't for sissies
- having children isn't for sissies
During the past two weeks,
- I lost one of my new chickens to Solo.
- we went without access to water for a day,
- then had only brown liquid come out of the tap for the next two days.
- Power lines were stolen in the Lowlands and we, and our entire valley, went without electricity for most of a day.
- We discovered a buck snare on our farm — evidence that there is, indeed, poaching going on in our own backyard.
- I had contact with one of the most unpleasant people I've met in a very long time.
- I went without a shower for four days (it wasn't pretty).
- We had to haul many Jerry cans to go fetch clean, fresh drinking water from neighbors' down the road. Imagine!
- I had already been backed up in doing laundry, and without water, ended up wearing underwear previously delegated to the rag pile. Mom definitely wouldn't have approved (I know, this is too much information).
- The many seedlings we had started suffered from lack of water.
- Nils and others missed the South Africa vs. Fiji Rugby World Cup match on television.
- I couldn't blog or surf!!!
- We couldn't do most of the (electricity dependent) things we planned to do,
- so, we went and spent the afternoon having a braai and fun with new friends.
- I was reminded to listen to my own instincts, and do what I know is the right thing to do.
- I think that Nils and I talked to each other more (unavoidable since I couldn't surf or blog, and there was no television).
- I learned I can get dishes clean by hand with a small amount of water.
- We drank less coffee (electric coffee machine) and more fruit juice.
- We get more exercise since we take slightly longer walks on the farm to survey for traps and snares.
- I re-started meditation and began putting more efforts into a "Five Elements" exercise course I've wanted to develop.
This morning I planned to bake. As is the norm for life here, that was just another idea interrupted — this time by the "beep, beep" of a pick-up at our front gate.
The blustery "August Winds" that had continued into September finally subsided for a moment and our friend, neighbor, and chicken farmer up the road (I will have to find another way to refer to him) was grabbing the opportunity to do a "block burn" (or controlled burn) on our farm.
Neither Nils nor I had ever witnessed such a thing.
From The Tao of Pooh, "Through working in harmony with life's circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive."
In my head, I know that country living means exposure to the harshnesses of Mother Nature. In my heart, I don't see quite so clearly. I have a ways to go in overcoming the "Yuk Factor" that can fill me with fear and disgust. Trying a slightly different perspective on some unpleasant discoveries on our arrival helped a little bit …
The unusual cold front that swept through several provinces in South Africa just after we arrived, left our area here in the Drakensberg Mountains with power outages, inaccessible snow- and ice-covered roads, and long lines of traffic at a standstill. Not what you imagined when we talked of South Africa, eh? Imagine the people living in uninsulated huts or wooden cottages where the wind whips in between the slats!
I dared not complain about my minor lifestyle inconveniences, but I did miss not creating a more auspicious start to reports on our adventures here.
Admittedly, Nils and I are a bit starry-eyed, and even maybe Pollyanna-ish in our hopes of what life will be like in rural South Africa (see "Why South Africa"). To prove that we do have some perspective on what we're getting ourselves into, here are a few of the adjustments we know we'll face.
Some will be tougher than others.