“I don’t think that it is about finding who you are. I think it is about finding a place where you can be who you are.”
This is not quite the title that you will find on some alluring novel. ‘Nine months in Bordeaux’, sounds a whole lot more exotic. For me though, the past few months has been every bit a compelling ‘read’!
People often ask me how I ended up in Vermont (Hermanus). I think Vermont found me rather than the other way around. I had decided after some 16 years in Cape Town that I needed a change. I spent months pouring over google, researching various possibilities from Darling to MacGregor to Carnarvon.
Through a process of elimination, I ended up with Hermanus at the top of my list. Armed with my laptop and an assortment of Property 24 homes to look at, I leaped into my car and set off early one morning. During my search the name Vermont had kept on popping up. I completely ignored it, after all, Vermont is in the USA, isn’t it? As I eagerly sped along to my first house viewing, I passed a sign saying, yes you guessed it, ‘Vermont’. “Really, this is where it is?” Screeching on the brakes, frightening the locals and narrowly missing a car, I shot up Lynx Avenue.
I instantly knew that this was where I wanted to be. A feeling of tranquillity descended on me as I gazed at the sea. I beheld the abundant bird life in the many green belts. People were out walking their dogs. Children were playing in the streets and a group of neighbours had gathered on the corner to chat. Old school, just the way I like it!
I then drove past what is now my little wooden house on the hill and it was enchantment at first sight. It took me another month of deep introspection. I made an offer and sold my house in Cape Town, all within a week. It was clearly meant to be.
Most of my friends declared me instantly insane and there were many a sceptical eyebrow raised in my direction. I have never baulked at a challenge and have always welcomed change as a necessary part of growth, so I was not deterred.
With a fully laden car, my dog and two cats, I left Cape Town. I was welcomed with the smell of the ocean and neighbours, with cookies, pot plants and well wishes. To be honest I did not sleep for the first few nights as it was so darn quiet.
I still had to complete a few renovations on my ‘hout huisie’. After a near electrocution, a flooded bathroom, a constant stream of contractors and being reduced to a screaming banshee, everything eventually did get done.
My animals had taken a fair bit of strain to start but quickly adjusted to their new environment. They are now all ridiculously content, although age is catching up with my old labby. This more than likely will be her last home. Not bad considering that she gets to swim in the sea, chase Francolin and spend her days sunning on the deck.
I too took some initial stress and spent a few tearful nights. I arrived not knowing a single person. I was however armed with a list of names that had been given to me by folk in Cape Town who knew of an aunty, cousin, nephew or best friend, who had come to live here. Not one to gather dust, I got onto the phone and organised coffee dates. I started exploring my new environs, got lots of speeding fines, joined a running club, business networks and started photography.
The local forums on Facebook, especially Onrus – Vermont, were a fountain of information. The sense of community and care is something that I have found to be invaluable.
In my attempt to not be considered an outsider, I did my best to sound like a local and chatted away in what I thought was suiwer Afrikaans. I have to admit, I failed dismally and did not fool anyone.
I started exploring opportunities. I somewhat diversified my existing business. I have always wanted to do talks on health and wellness and this came to fruition with the advent of The Feminine Manoeuvre. Next year I will endeavour to continue spreading the wellness ethos by adding Lifestyle Workshops to the programme.
I am a wannabe writer and the one idea that manifested itself when I first saw my house with its deck and beautiful sea and mountain views, was that this would be the place that inspired me to write. That has materialised with the start of a new blog called ‘My Cultured Kitchen‘. I will also be committing to writing more of my memoirs on this blog. 2017 will see me launch a company offering an array of writing services from ghost blogging to newsletters to content writing.
I have connected with so many incredible people over the last nine months and friendships are in the offing. I definitely do have spells of loneliness, broken with visits from my Son, my Mom and Cape Town friends. I am spoilt for choice with so much to still explore and experience on this amazing stretch of the Overberg.
I have definitely found the place where I can be who I am. Certainly for the moment at any rate. It is so often the case that when we remove ourselves from our comfort zones that we reach our true potential. The burgeoning of this soul sits so comfortably with me that I know where ever I should venture to next, that she will hold me in good stead. Who knows, perhaps I will be whisked off and will be sitting having sundowners, gazing at a vastly different sunset! My soul will be very much intact, thanks to Nine months in Vermont!