Space to Put Down Roots

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Trading city life for a house on an Eastern Cape beach, INGA SIBIYA lets go of stress and unnecessary pressures, and grabs hold of something more powerful

I don’t fall asleep to ambulance sirens screaming frantically through the streets. The harrowing horns of cars as a canon during rush hour aren’t what wakes me up in the morning. Instead, waves crashing along the shore are my alarm, and the gentle hum that used to provoke my anxiety when I relocated now sings my bedtime lullaby. Yes … I’ve moved to the country.

Living in Johannesburg for the majority of my life acclimatised me to bizarre behaviours. Whether I was in a busy bank or a packed Gautrain, or walking through a shopping mall, my personal space was never respected. I could never throw the right gang sign when hailing a taxi, so I’d end up somewhere between the N1 Western Bypass and Maxwell Drive before realising I was on the wrong Kombi and having to ask the driver to let me off.

When my parents bought me a car, I suffered through a toxic relationship with parking guards. If I paid them, they’d watch my car. If I didn’t, they’d turn a blind eye as Charlie was broken into and her radio stolen. Big-city life may be alluring to some – but to me it’s matchbox-sized apartments stacked on top of each other with no garden to plant your roses in. It’s 10,7km stretched into 90 minutes of burning your clutch or stalling in first gear.

When I decided to trade the crowded sidewalks of Jozi for the potholes and gravel roads of the countryside, I was hoping for a change in pace. What I did not expect was to appreciate the scenery as much as I do.

I know live about 120 metres from a private beach, and wake up to a panoramic view of whales breaching in the warm Indian Ocean – and, from time to time, a pod of playful dolphins join skilled surfers as they barrel through the water. The balmy air of the Wild Coast is thick with sea salt, and the breeze provides respite from the attentive sun. I could certainly learn something from the Eastern Cape and its resilient landscape; the flora and fauna prosper unapologetically, despite the two-year drought.

In the country, I can go for an afternoon jog and not have to worry about the jarring jeers of men – the only audience I have are the dassies that scatter when they hear me coming and the troop of monkeys I often fight with when taking my two Alsatians for a walk. I pass big num-num shrubs, which hem the beaches; their bright red fruits attract the attention of birds that loiter on the tan sand after a lazy lunch, looking to snack on unattended picnic baskets for dessert.

I’ve abandoned urban life for a rustic one, and every day is a visceral experience. Every day, I am reminded of my connection to nature. The uninterrupted view of the Milky Way makes me appreciate the fresh air of the countryside. I am encouraged to support local businesses so that our skies aren’t polluted by factories mass producing items for international distribution. Frolicking in the crystal-blue waters reminds me to be more responsible about dumping my trash; that plastic shopping bag carelessly discarded could be the one that chokes a sea turtle or a dolphin. The preservation and protection of both the grey crowned crane and the great blue heron at the local bird sanctuary encourages me to think twice about how my lifestyle may affect the deforestation responsible for the endangerment of birds.

I am grateful for my move. It’s made me consider the lives affected by the decisions I make. It’s given me a sense of community. I not only have a place to plant my roses, but I know their roots will be fed and nourished by the earth and they, in turn, will feed and nourish all that need it.

 

Instagram: inga_sibiya

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