May was the month of being in one place, of having a ”home”. Sweet freedom for my things that got to be on shelves for a whole month (5 weeks even, actually). It was a well-deserved break from the backpack for them.
I like to believe that I don’t have rituals, that my activities vary all the time from one day to the other. But when I have my own space for longer periods of time, I discover that I (re)acquiring rituals. Coffee with milk, but without sugar, oats porridge with bananas, raisins or peanuts for breakfast almost every day for breakfast. Sometimes omelet or scrambled eggs. Cooking pots of food that would last 2/3 days. Lunch is the main meal, mostly snacking for dinner. Grocery shopping for at least 5 days once –going shopping is not my thing. Reading mornings at coffee and evening before going to bed.
May was a month of having space and time for myself, of not feeling the pressure to be social, but rather just enjoy my own company.
”What do you do all day long?” many of my friends asked me. I played the piano again, I learnt how to solve the Rubik’s cube (almost), I read two and a half books, I wrote quite a bit – for the blog, for my “job”, for my personal journal – I went on morning walks with the neighbour, I did a bit of gardening, I even biked a little – the neighbours lent me a bike they haven’t used in about 4 years. They also gave me tools to play the mechanic while fixing the flat tire and adjusting the brakes. They also gave me oil for the chain and a pump. I also meditated and ran, but, truth be told, not as much as I had hoped, but hey, you can’t have it all.
The main reason why May was such a good month was that I was house-sitting again. I’m a lucky bastard. In Romania, when people are very lucky, we say that for sure they ate shit using a teaspoon when they were kids. I used a table spoon.
I ended up in a wonderful house with a piano, unlimited WiFi, a vegetable garden, a big yard and a nice cat to sleep at my feet. A house that blends very well with the nature around while still offering all the comfort needed. A house full of objects made from recycled materials. In Maun, Botswana.
Every day I would discover a new cool thing: glasses made out of beer bottles, fridge magnets made out of beer caps, shelves and bed tables made out of plastic beer crates, candle holders made out of metal cans. And loads of other small smart things like wine corks fitted on the lid pots and thread around the tea pot handle so that you don’t need a rag every time you move the lid of the pot or the tea pot.
The house is simple, yet elegant, comfortable, yet environmental-friendly, big, yet cozy, is isolated, yet with neighbours very close. It’s the perfect environment for combining working and living which is also what Lin (the owner of the house) does.
And the books, oh the books! I paused reading my book (Wild swans de…) and greedily choose a few books to read from Lin’s wonderful collection. “Love in Time of Cholera” fed the romantic me, “The Scavengers’ Manifesto” fed the economist in me, the collection of short stories written by Southern African female writers fed the “wanna-be” culturally and socially aware me. And there were so many other interesting reads there…
Even on the days that I didn’t go out of the yard at all, I didn’t feel as if I was inside the entire time. Because, truth be told, I wasn’t inside. The large green shady yard makes it the perfect place for writing or reading or admiring birds and squirrels or laughing at the cat trying to hunt squirrels. I’m pretty sure the squirrels were also laughing at the cat all the time.
I didn’t feel bad about not going out because there was no need to go out when there’s so much nature just in front of your house. I could walk around the yard, water the vegetable garden, inspect how much the egg-plant has grown since a few days back, “work” from the outside porch, stop clicking and start listening to the birds. I had no idea before that squirrels can be so noisy. Or just grab one of the books and read on the big chair in the shadow.
Unfortunately, beginning of June was the time to go and leave this wonderful house and its even more wonderful owner behind. But the encounter with them both (house and owner) was truly amazing and inspiring in loads of ways…We touched many subjects: house design ideas, life styles, ways of thinking, books, environmental problems and potential solutions, social problems and potential solutions, conservancy, research, life in academia, working for someone (selling your time) vs. freelancing vs. own business, to name just a few.
These past few weeks have definitely enriched me and left a long-lasting memory of my time in Botswana. It has been for sure a great inspiration.
June…? June was mostly about working in a backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia. More about that in a later post.