An Aussie in Africa: from corporate to camp life

So I’ve just moved over to South Africa to live and help out at EcoTraining’s camps. It’s a longish story in terms of how I got to be here, but suffice it to say I got a little tired of my corporate city life in Sydney and decided to move over here with my (freshly married) South African husband (who happens to be a safari guide). I lost my heart to both a boy and a country when I came over on safari in 2012, but that’s a story for another day. For now, stay tuned to hear all about our adventures as we navigate camp life, Big 5 encounters and scorpion phobias (plus so much more… hopefully).

I did it! I survived my first week in the bush. It wasn’t even as hard as I thought it would be. Actually, it was pretty easy.  It’s funny how quickly you can adjust to completely different circumstances.

From living with one other person (and a cat) in a four-bed, 2.5-bathroom place to living in a tent and sharing a few bathrooms with up to 15+ people. Then there’s the weird sensation of actually being excited by your alarm because it means it’s time to go out and see if you can find some animals. Even weirder (for me) – enjoying overcast, miserable weather! I am usually a hound for sunshine and summer days but when you have no air conditioning or even electricity for fans, all of a sudden you come to appreciate a bit of evening rain and some overcast days. Particularly when the days can get well over 40 degrees!

There are some similarities I guess. I am still woken up by cats periodically – albeit these ones are much larger than Oli (my domestic short hair back in Australia) and thankfully they aren’t scratching at our tent door but instead roaring or calling in the distance. I have to admit I’m still pretty happy to be woken by those sounds – I wonder if it will ever get old. Probably not. Last night we were woken by a buffalo trying to share our tent – another disturbance I was more than happy to have. Welcome to South Africa!

What are the biggest differences? It’s hard to say because everything is so different. The entire pace of life out here is worlds apart from corporate city life in Australia. All of a sudden the things you worried about before seem entirely inconsequential when you are surrounded by the vastness of the African bush. Things just don’t really matter as much anymore. You are no longer important. Well, really you probably never were; but at least now you realise it. And strangely, for whatever reason, that’s somehow comforting.

There’s a patience you develop out here that isn’t very often seen in first-world city life. Perhaps some of that is ‘TIA’ (this is Africa) and the fact life over here in general (city or bush) moves at a slower pace. But some of it is just because you feel like you have all the time in the world. You have to think really hard about what day of the week it is, and even then sometimes you get it wrong. But who cares because aside from remembering when the food deliveries are coming there’s not much need for details like days and dates.

Yep, life out here in the bush is much simpler and easygoing. The biggest worry is keeping mosquitos at bay and not stepping on a scorpion as you walk to the bathroom at night. I’ve already learnt to look for and appreciate the smaller things, be it sun spiders scrambling around at night, or beautiful Large Striped Swordtail butterflies flittering about in the day. Lizards visiting our tent (hopefully eating mosquitos) and Collared Sunbirds building a nest near our dining area. Yesterday we had two giraffes that visited our tent in the afternoon. I used to get excited when I glimpsed the black swans from our balcony back home – now I have buffaloes and giraffes just metres away. It makes me wonder how I’ll ever be content when I go back to reality. But that’s a worry for another day, hopefully in the distant future.

Is it what I expected? Not exactly, but even after a week I can feel myself changing, and I think that’s a good thing.

About the Author:
Annemi Zaaiman

Annemi Zaaiman

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