It is ok to be unplugged! To leave behind responsibilities and that fine but strong thread that ties us to the online world. It isn’t easy though.
The lure of the African bush
When we started planning our trip to South Africa, I just knew I wanted time in the bush. Time to get back to my roots and feel ‘African’. It is hard to describe the assault to the senses that sunset in the bush is – it’s the smell of the soil and the aroma of smoke as the fires crackle for night-time braais (BBQs). The gentle sun on my skin, and the sparkle that the sun creates as it touches the leaves in the trees and kisses the water. It is the taste of a cold beer, or glass of wine and the company of good friends. And, It is even the laugh as you look behind you and find a family of warthogs wanted to join in.
Dreams do come true and we had our bush experience at beautiful Mabalingwe, a nature reserve in the Swartberg Mountains in Limpopo Province in South Africa.
We shopped, we packed and set off on our journey. It is funny that the first thing we seem to do when we get anywhere is to check our phones. And when we got settled in to our gorgeous cottage, we had nothing. No signal at all! Between us we tried all sorts of positions and combinations but to be honest no matter what we tried it didn’t work. Standing on my tip toes with my head angled towards I don’t know what, I managed to send a message that we had arrived safely. We relaxed, we ate good food, we chatted and laughed and yes, had that glass of wine or two.
Mabalingwe is an amazing place, with the opportunity to go on self-drive safari. We got up early in the morning and headed out at a slow pace, rambling along taking in all the sights, sounds and smells that epitomise the African bush. Lucky for us, we saw some amazing sights including my two favourite animals, zebra’s and giraffes.
Unplugged and without transport!
I told myself I was fine, not being connected. After a couple of days of no internet access I felt quite smug. I could do this. That was until I finished my book on my kindle and realised I didn’t have a way of downloading a new one.
On Monday I needed to confirm that the hire car I had booked would be delivered. Now my stress levels started rising. I couldn’t make a clear phone call as the signal kept dropping. I couldn’t access my emails and to be honest I didn’t feel good knowing that I was so out of touch.
Eventually I asked the hotel reception for assistance and some hours later the car turned up. Sometimes we need a reminder of how things were done before mobile phones arrived.
To celebrate the arrival of the car, we visited Vultures View – the amazing pub that is literally in the sky and offers great service, good food and views begging to be posted on Instagram. And, we discovered, the best WiFi!
I downloaded a book, or two, checked my mail and social media accounts and realised that truthfully, I hadn’t missed much.
Choosing to be unplugged
For the balance of the week, I chose to be unplugged (almost 24/7). It was quite freeing to know that scrolling through my phone was pointless. Instead I read lots of books and took time to simply do nothing.
I also, treated myself to a couple of treatments at the Mbali Spa. Self-care is a bit like being unplugged – you know you need to do it, but in the hustle of daily life it gets forgotten. I made my choice and simply relaxed. My first treatment was a geranium and pine sugar scrub. I felt so good after it that I booked a facial for the next day.
I must admit that every couple of days we visited the pub and ‘checked-in’. We even got caught in the most amazing and scary thunderstorm one day, when even the higher powers unplugged the electricity.
Perhaps I need the thought of our beautiful time in the bush to remind me to stop scrolling and unplug.
Thank you for sharing my adventures.