Our Cruise was Cancelled. Now what?

I had planned to see out my last birthday in my 40’s over the Indian Ocean. I had booked a cruise to nowhere for my son and I but covid killed those plans. The cruise was cancelled. I still feel an urge to do something different though I think I feel a road trip coming on…

My Ideal Road trip

Phew, I would probaly need to break it down into about 3 or 4 trips to see everything I would love to see with my son. Where to start…hmmm…probably the garden route which runs through the Eastern Cape Coast and ends in the Western Cape. I would probably make it a 2 week long trip so that we can sleep over in numerous towns and have the opportunity to explore some of the towns along the way. There are a number of museums like the literary museum in Makhado (ex-Grahamstown) and we can take a day trip to at least one game reserve. I have yet to visit the Cango Caves (it would require a slight detour) or Koffee Bay which is said to be very beautiful. And of course stop at Cape Agulhas which is the home of the southernmost point of Africa. If you keen to explore the route further, I found this website that has lots of great information

Cape Agulhas
The Cango Caves

A road trip closer to home

I live in beautiful Durban and am fortunate that I am only a 2-3 hour drive fron the Drakensberg mountains and have the beach on my doorstep. The Midlands Meander is a wonderful trip to make and it starts in Hilton which is an hour away. It is dotted with a number of little industries and shops. You can find anything on the route from breweries to cheese making to arts and crafts. There are awesome hiking trails and other adventure-based activities. Gourmet food is also pretty easy to find. There is the Fernhill Hotel as an example, which also happens to be a training school for chefs. One of my favourite spots to visit is the Nelson Mandela capture site. Taking ‘the long walk to freedom’ is an awesome experience. Whenever I have been there, the air has been still and there is absolute silence. It ‘s a humbling experience. The sculpture also just blows my mind and there is also a museum on site.

My dad and my son doing the long walk to freedom in 2013
My son and I in front of the Nelson Mandela sculpture in 2013.

If there is one good thing that the pandemic has created, it is an awareness of all the places there are to visit and explore right on our doorsteps. I love road trips so I am definitely going to plan one. I actually can’t wait!

What are some of your favourite spots in South Africa or in the country in which you live? I would love to hear to about them and possibly add them to my bucket list😊

Thanks for reading. Stay safe!

Living through a Failed Insurrection…

It’s been 2 weeks since our lives were turned upside down by, what the government calls, a failed insurrection. 2 weeks since we were traumitised by the sounds of gunshots in our neighbourhoods as we tried to get some semblence of rest at night and were faced with the sights and sounds of people’s livelihoods being looted and then burnt to the ground. If ever you wanted to understand the value of faith and living in the now, trust me when I say that an experience like this can bring it home very quickly. I have spent the past week trying to process everything that has happened and what is actually going on inside of me. Today was the first time that I actually took the time out to just be and to rest. My self-care Saturday. I also spent the time reflecting on what on what I have learned as well and would like to share it with you.

The Power of Faith

The unrest really started affecting us on the Sunday. By then reports were coming through that main roads where being blocked in the city but I wasn’t too concerned as we have been through this countless times before and the police would always stop it before things got out of control. That evening, the president announced a 9pm curfew to help curb the spread of covid. To my surprise, the main road that my bedroom window faced buzzed like it was the middle of the day after 9pm. Little did I know that it was looters on their way to help themselves to good in the warehouses in the industrial area down the road from me. By 11pm I was chatting to my friends aunt in a nearby suburb who was terrified because of all the gunfire she could hear. I thought it was an isolated incident. Then I started hearing it too. Not a lot but any gunfire is not normal so fear started to kick in. Fortunately my son was by his dad so I didn’t have to worry about him immediately. I slept for about an hour at a time that night.

Monday was the scariest day because reality started to kick in and I began to worry about my son. I knew he was safe with this dad but he wasn’t with me and that bugged me more than I realised. As a mum it is important that I always have him within my sight when there is imminent danger. On Monday night, the gunfire got worse and I was acutely aware of the sounds of the looters transporting their goods along the road just a few 100m’s away from my bedroom window. Sleep did not come easy or stay long when it did come. By Tuesday morning I was at breaking point. My son’s father wanted to bring him home as his business was affected and he needed to focus on sorting that out. I needed to get my son home safely. I was a wreck. Thankfully, my friend drove the route for me and assured me it was safe to go so I managed to get him home safely. Once he was home, it was even more important not to fall apart and that is when I realised I needed to make a choice. I could choose to continue consuming information coming at me and live in fear about things that are out if my control or I could choose to leave all that was happening out there at God’s feet and focus on what was in my control, namely, keeping the environment within our 4 walls as normal as possible under the circumstances mainly and helping out neighbours where I could. I slept so peacefully that Tuesday night after making the decision that I did not hear the explosions that apparently rattled our windows at 4am from the warehouse fire in our backyard. I have to admit that when that fire started, I was packed and ready to go in case it spread our way. Thankfully, it never came to that. That emergency bag remains packed though as I this experince has taught me that it just makes sence to always have one on standby.

By Wednesday, I felt very calm on the outside but I could feel the terror still bubbling underneath. I have to admit that it was the weirdest feeling ever. I think by Wednesday though, everyone was tired of living in fear and so we were all drawn to pray to turn the situation around. We had an interfaith online prayer session at work for everyone in the company. Our team at work also had a pray session in the evening. Friends that I spoke to on Thursday also found that they were drawn to pray on the Wednesday. Thursday was a calmer day. It felt like our prayers had been answered. Suddenly people started looking for food as they were not prepared for this and were running out of basics. Some areas had no more stores or the stores they did have were empty. So we continued to pray. By Friday, stories started trickling in of free bread and milk being made available by kind hearted souls and especially by the Muslim community. The government was making an effort to get food to our province. People started cleaning up and the atmosphere changed. It was amazing to witness. Pray with faith changes things. You have to believe to recieve.

The Aftermath

While I was definitely shielded from the worst of it, I am surprised by how trautamitised I still feel to an extent. What has also surprised me is how quickly I am still triggered by certain things.

  • I learned very quickly that when a lot of the looters were moving about at night in the neighbouring suburb, all the neighbouredhood dogs would go wild. As a result, when a dog starts barking at night, I automatically tense and wait to hear if the rest start up as well.
  • I was woken up at 1am on Friday morning by the smell of smoke. I was so freaked out. It was a fire quite far from me but I was only able to fall asleep again at around 4am.
  • Yesterday I saw a fire raging in, what appeared to be, one of the surrounding industrial areas that had been targeted. I instantly tensed up and wondered if it was the unrest starting all over again.
  • I am virtually jump out of my skin at any loud sound. They other day I was pottering in my garden when I heard a loud noise. My neighbour opened a window that sticks. I thought I was going to have a heart attack!

I know that just about everyone around me is also still feeling very alert. Even though life has largely gone back to normal on the outside, it is still far from normal on the inside. It’s definitely going to take some time to truly learn to relax again.

Dealing with an event like this also brought into sharp focus that there actually is a lot that is out of my control and that the future is promised to no-one. Things happened so quickly and the only things that I could really control were my choices regarding the actions that I could take from moment to moment. It terrified me on the one hand but on the other it was strangely comforting to just let go and live in the moment. I have learned to be prepared but understand and accept that I can only control my choices. The rest is not up to me. I also have to constantly remind myself that I need to lay the fear at God’s feet and trust that He has my back.

Gratitude

It’s not possible to come through this experience without feeling lots of gratitude. Gratitude for the communtity members who put their lives on the line every night to keep us safe in our homes. Gratitude that we are safe and sound, have hot running water and electricity in our homes and have cupborads full of food. There are far too many in our country that can’t say the same. Gratitude for the friends and family that constantly checked on me and my son telephonically. Gratitude for the company that I work for and the leadership team who were so supportive to everyone during the entire ordeal and gave everyone the space they needed to do what needed to be done. Gratitude that as a single mum, I have the means to always overstock because I don’t have someone to send out for stuff if I run out of something, especially at night. Alex and I had enough food to keep us going for at least 2 weeks which probably puts me in teh league of the doomsday preppers 😜😂

This event in our history highlighted all that is so great about South Africans and also hammered home that for too many it’s a frustrating struggle to put food on the table for their families everyday and to keep a roof of sorts over their heads everyday and live a dignified life. That was just one of the many reasons why it happened in the first place. I don’t know what tomorrow holds or how we will solve our problems as a country. What I do know is that I have today and, between covid and this past event, I have learned that today is precious and is to be experienced in every possible way.

Thanks for letting me share my experience with you. Stay safe!

It’s the little things (part 2)

Day 24 of the Covid19 lockdown in South Africa(I think…). I have been working from home for just over a month now and I have to say that it really hasn’t been as bad for Alex and I. I get the sense from social media that a lot of people are not enjoying this period at all though. There have really been far more positives to this experience for us both. Let me know if you can relate to any of them.

The things I am enjoying

  • Quality time spent cooking, baking and even cleaning with Alex. It feels great because it feels like we are working as a team. I also have a little more patience with him because we don’t have to rush.
  • Eating supper at the table. I had sold my dining room chairs over Christmas because I wanted a new look. I just didn’t get around to buying a new set until 2 days before lockdown! I got a bee in my bonnet and decided that we were not going through lockdown without dining room chairs. Besides, the dining table was becoming a clutter magnet which was driving me insane. Now we have chairs again and we have eaten at the table almost every night.
  • I have being rearranging our home and, as a result, I am starting to enjoy it again. I still work all week so I don’t have as much time as I would like to do all the things I want to but, that is a good problem to have.
  • I get to spend more time with Alex in general and even shoot a few basketball hoops with him although he does run circles around me.
  • I am able to monitor Alex’s progress with his school work. Why are boys so lazy when it comes to school work? This is the one area where we still have our fights.
  • My best friend and I have started meeting via Zoom to exercise some mornings. Isn’t it funny how we never got to the gym together and it took the lockdown for us to find a way to exercise together? I must admit that that morning session makes a huge difference to my mood and energy levels during the course of the day.
  • My little garden continues to thrive. I never ever expected to enjoy gardening. I mean ever. The idea of digging the in the dirt just did not appeal to me. Buying my own home spurred this need to have plants inside and outside my home. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what a grounding experience gardening is. I love it!
  • I had the time to nurse my Siamese fighter fish back to some level of health. Problem is that he felt so good that he jumped out the bowl on Easter morning (he was in isolation to give him the space to heal), and accidentally committed suicide. I was devastated!
  • My son is evolving into a young man before my very eyes. Has grown taller since we have been at home and his hormones are clearly kicking in. I am grateful for the experience of actually being able to watch him go through this.
  • I have chosen to use this time to finish all the books I have started in the last 6 months and never got around to finishing. And there are a lot! I am done with 3 already and about 5 or more to go. Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies as to why I have so many unfinished books lying around.
  • Connecting with friends and family more often via messaging and calls. No-one has ever had the time to connect as much as we do now.
  • I’ve even had the opportunity to do the Mind Power course with Robin Banks online this weekend. It was exhausting but very enlightening. I am looking forward to the next few weeks of exercises and follow-up webinars.

How are we able to stay sane?

  • We have developed a routine. Alex gets up by 8 am and starts his school work when I dial into my first meeting which is at 8:30am every morning. We have lunch at around 12pm and dinner at around 6pm and he is asleep by 9pm. The routine is like an anchor.
  • I shower every morning and get dressed as if I was actually going to step out the house almost everyday. I even put mascara on some days and perfume just because I can. My usual skin care routine and especially applying SPF in the morning is a must! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you are staying inside all day, you don’t need SPF.
  • Saturdays are still my pamper days where I mask and exfoliate and pay extra attention to my skin.
  • Alex has his hoop and X-box and Netflix. I had to limit the time spent on the x-box and Netflix for fear his brain might rot. He, of course is highly unimpressed…lol. Now he does sudoku and other puzzles as well as draws to fill in the time.

My only frustration

My one frustration has been work dominating my time at home. I have come to accept this to some degree because I cannot change it and as I have mentioned previously, it is a very good problem to have.

Minor challenges

  • Snacking! Thankfully I have managed to maintain my intermittent fasting throughout. The problem now is snacking during my eating window. It has always been a challenge but now it is even worse!
  • Staying off my phone. Apple tells me that I am on my phone for more that 9 hours a day! That is outrageous. I see it doesn’t even bother to tell me what percentage increase that amounts to every week. Could it be that bad???
  • Getting up and moving around during the day. I used to get in about 5000 steps at work alone everyday. Now I battle to get 2000 steps on an average day. I forget to move away from my computer which is not a good thing. I think it has been one of the main reasons my weight loss stopped for a while. Today my shorts felt really big on me so I am hoping that the morning exercise is reversing that trend. Time will tell.

As an introvert, I have to admit that this lockdown has been bliss for me. I find working in an open plan office is extremely draining so this is like heaven. I miss the people but I am also loving the relative solitude. I have no doubt that people’s lives will be different for months, if not years to come. I am not sure it is a bad thing. I am enjoying the little things right now. They make life more enjoyable.

Stay safe everyone. Don’t forgot to wash your hands often if you are coming into contact with other people regularly and definitely don’t forget to moisturise your hands after each wash. Rough dry hands are no fun. If in doubt about what to do to stay safe, follow the WHO and/or government guidelines.

I hope your list of likes are far longer than your list of frustrations and challenges at this time too. Let me know how you are enjoying this lockdown period in the comments below.

Quote of the day: Aberjhani

“Individual cultures and ideologies have their appropriate uses but none of them erase or replace the universal experiences, like love and weeping and laughter, common to all human beings.”

___Aberjhan

Happy Heritage Day to my fellow South Africans! 🙌🇿🇦

African Nguni like print with quote in white box
Created by Grounded African

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