It never ceases to amaze me how much more I achieve when pushed to my limits. How I cope so much better then I expect to, how inventive I become and how much I realise about myself.
Covid changed so much for so many and we have all come out the other side realising we have to learn a new way of living. I have always believed that we should treat this Earth we live on with care and mindfulness. It is a living breathing being as we are and we know if we neglect or mistreat ourselves then we get hurt and get sick, so why not the Earth as well?We have been going along creating damage and pollution everywhere we step on this planet; taking out the natural trees and plant life to build towns, using up all the water resources, killing the animals. The Earth is hurting and so it has started fighting back. The virus has forced people to sit back and take stock and learn how to slow down. We had to learn new ways of interaction and survival.
I live in a beautiful valley surrounded by wildlife and beautiful African bush. Its hot and uncomfortable and difficult, but the rewards are the stunning sunrises and sunsets and the constant interaction with the wild and the River.
We were trying to start a new venture with not much backing but really loving what we were doing, so it was back to basics. All my household was put into storage and the first couple of months ourselves and our two cats lived in a small tent under the huge riverine trees on the banks of the Zambezi River. No electricity, no running water, no cooking facilities and just the basics. We operated with solar lights and a small solar system we connected which gave us lights for part of the night and sort of ran a temperamental little freezer. We had an ablution building but the toilet was a wobbling white throne with no seat, the shower wasn’t connected to pipes and there were no windows or doors. No kitchen, we cooked out in the open under a huge Wild Mango tree. We had an old upright gas stove, a proper antiquated think with the toaster at the top and the oven under. It worked beautifully once I figured the wind directions, dropping mangoes or marauding monkeys.
The tent would not survive the Valley storms and we couldn’t find a house so moved the Houseboat which hadn’t been used in a year off the River & onto land. A carpenter came each day to build a set of steps from the ground all the way up to the deck. It took him 5 days and about ten bottles of an unknown drink which seemed to help his work and inventiveness and we ended up with steps which looked like they came from that rhyme about the crooked house. There were no handrails and they were quite steep but the cats & myself learnt to get up & down very nimbly, especially in the sudden downpours of rain which came with force and wind and buckets of water.
Living in the houseboat was, I think, one of the most beautiful places I have lived. There were no windows but canvas flaps which I kept up as much as possible & became very adept at closing at speed when the rain came. We were never hassled by bugs or mosquitoes and always had cooling breezes. I lay on our huge mattress at the one end of the boat & just had to angle my head slightly to be able to look over the edge at the powerfully flowing water and had panoramic views of the bush around and across the River to Zambia. We were in the tress with the birds and monkeys who used to watch us watching them, very confused that we were so high.
We stayed in the boat for five months and in that time completed a kitchen area under roof as well right on the banks of the river and protected by shade netting. Still often visited by the leguaans, monkeys and baboons but they couldn’t get to anything as we had installed a huge metal locker cupboard plus we now also had a small fridge. Our solar system increased to the point where our lights lasted all night and I could even use my sewing machine. We had wifi so music played constantly and we had solar fans plus lights. The ablutions were completed so I could no longer sit on my throne and watch the river flowing past and the shower worked so I didn’t carry a bucket any more. It was perfect and I realised it was all we actually needed. I missed a few of the more essential items in storage but we survived without them anyway.
It couldn’t last. Someone bought my house and took it off to fix it up and I believe it has changed completely now. We are back to living in a house. Back to windows which have to be closed as the electric lights attract bugs. Back to curtains which have to be drawn as we are worried about who is watching us. Back to fans and air conditioners which make so much noise I can no longer hear the sounds of the Bush.