SLOWING DOWN IN THE MIDLANDS (SOUTH AFRICA)
Nestled in the rolling, green hills of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Africa, is Preston Farm - my current place of residence. I’ve only been here for four full days and I already feel more relaxed than I have in at least a year. Over the past six months I studied for and took the LSAT twice, held an internship, completed my last semester at USC, and built and launched this website. A vacation was very needed.
Normally, I have a very hard time slowing down. More often than not, my brain is running with a full-speed-ahead mindset. Therefore, even when I get a chance to slow down for a few days, it feels uncomfortable or even wrong. So far being in KZN, I haven’t felt that way and I believe it has to do with 2 key things:
The pristine natural environment surrounding me.
The physical/geographical distance from my responsibilities.
I went from living in Los Angeles, California to a small farm in rural South Africa. The two could not be more opposite. And while my heart will always remain in Los Angeles and with the fast, city pace, I have the utmost appreciation for my current location. Everything from the air I’m breathing to the water I’m drinking and the food I’m tasting is pure and natural.
Preston Farm is a dairy farm so grazing cows scatter the landscape and provide for all the dairy products we are consuming here. My first breakfast, cooked by my boyfriend who gets to call this place “home,” was scrambled eggs with exclusively farm-fresh ingredients. Eggs from the chickens were blended with cream cheese and milk from the cows and sprinkled with chives and spring onions picked from the garden.
Later in the day he and I picked oranges for a sweet and truly all-natural glass of OJ. Even foods like peanut butter and honey come from neighboring farms and it allows me to feel like I am really nourishing my body after months of inhaling smog and drinking chemically-filtered water.
On my second morning on the farm we walked 45 minutes through forests and valleys to get to a local farmers market where farmers from across the midlands were selling their artisan products. I sat and mingled with the other patrons at a long communal table over a glass of kombucha and vegan sweet potato, quinoa wrap. Not only is this sort of start to a day nourishing to the body but it’s nourishing to the soul (at least when compared to a protein bar and caffeine, sugar-packed Starbucks I’m usually rushing to finish on my walk to class).
The other thing that gives this farm the mysterious power to slow me down is it’s location. It took me about 35 hours to get from USC to Preston Farm. Over a day’s worth of those hours was spent sitting on planes: 18.5 hours from LAX to Addis Ababa, 6 hours from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg, 1 hour from Johannesburg to Durban with a final 2 hour drive from the Durban airport to the farm.
What I’m trying to say is - this is not an easy trip. Travelling for this amount of time makes me all the more aware of the distance. There is no way to just rush home for something or pop back in for an event. And with the time difference, I cannot even contact my friends and family in the States for most of the day.
This forces me to really disconnect (well that and the lack of reliable Wifi and occasional power outages).
I realize it hasn’t even been a week of this slower pace yet, but I acknowledge that, for me, slowing down, disconnecting and taking some time to breathe without thinking about future jobs, law school applications, or what’s next just for a few days is a huge accomplishment.
This is my first time in KwaZulu-Natal.