Today it is exactly two years since my first post on this blog. I started the blog to share the amazing journey of living a truly South African and traditional Cape country lifestyle with friends. I am surprised by the world-wide interest that my posts are getting, but glad that followers enjoy reading the posts as much as I do writing them.
The blog has taught me to look at life differently. It has given me an opportunity to capture a true Cape country lifestyle visually in pictures and words. In my travels through Spain, Italy, the UK and Canada I have experienced amazing cultures and practises. Because I believe in experiencing a country through its unique traditions, food, architecture, gardens and music, I always make sure to gain an understanding of the cultural identity of the people and places I visit.
I respect the country and its people, making sure not to impose my culture, even if that might feel more comfortable. Traveling is supposed to take you out of your comfort zone. One needs to make an effort to experience something new. It is a matter of exploring why some experiences, that are different from what you are used to, but very natural in other cultures, make you feel out of place.
Traveling is like visual poetry. The food, people, architecture, gardens and music are different elements of the same poem. Although I love the architecture of other countries, I never had the urge to replicate any of it in South Africa or impose it on our Cape country house. I enjoy Tuscan architecture and its charming colour palettes as much as Spanish country houses. But, they are more beautiful within their own cultural landscape, creating a visual poem that is a joy to read.
Elements of the food and wine culture of other countries that I enjoy, I might occasionally introduce into the meals I prepare at Towerwater. But, I always make sure to celebrate our own food and wine culture in context with our traditional house and garden. They speak of the unique cultural landscape of South Africa and the Western Cape.
I find the introduction of foreign architectural elements to our traditional buildings to be jarring and clumsy, distorting and denying the true tradition of the buildings and the cultural traditions they represent. Not only do such intrusions sit awkwardly in the landscape, but they also confuse the heritage of these buildings for the average visitor.
I loved the feel of the Limonaia or Lemonary of the Biboli Gardens in Florence, Italy. I stood in awe of this amazing space constructed in 1549. But I would not dream of imposing a lemonary on Towerwater. Although, I think it is so romantic with the citrus in their terracotta pots that can be wheeled indoors when necessary. This, apart from the reality that we do not have a need to protect our citrus trees in that way, as we enjoy a mild climate with 12 months of sunshine.
I have a vivid memory of overladen citrus trees standing proud in every traditional Cape garden. With their deep green leaves and vibrant yellow-orange fruit against the bluest blue sky, brightening up the backdrop of white lime washed buildings with their black thatched roofs.
I love traveling, seeing and experiencing new things. But, I love coming home more, where I can climb into the familiar skin of local traditional architecture, food, gardens and furniture that speaks with an authentic voice about my cultural heritage as part of a broader spectrum of cultures, in this amazing country of ours.
I am part of Africa and Africa is part of me. Traveling only makes me realise just how much I love this country, and my cultural heritage within it.
Happy 2nd Birthday Blog!