I’ve been fasting for the past few days and today is my first real day of eating food again, and thought I’d share my experience with you.
As my title says, fasting definitely isn’t for sissies! I did a 3-day juice fast, which basically mean that for 3 days I didn’t eat any food and only drank water and raw vegetable juice at meal times. Let me tell you the thinking behind it before you all think I’ve gone bonkers…
So there are various reasons for fasting (health and spiritual reasons) and mine were health-related. It’s said that fasting is a healing agent, giving rest to your system and eliminating impurities that have accumulated for years. The theory behind it is that during a fast, the energy that is usually directed towards digestion is available for repair and healing of the body and clears the mind. Seeing that I’m approaching 30 (still far away, but nonetheless, approaching) and I have never given my body a proper rest, I thought I’d give it a go. A bit of clarity never hurt anyone, anyway!
Sounds so good in theory, but in practice…holy moly it was difficult. You don’t realise how much time in your life is dedicated to preparing and eating food, and how much of a social role it plays, until you take it away.
I struggled…a lot…and not because I was hungry and weak – that feeling went away after about a day and a half – but more because the rituals of preparing food and eating are such a big part of my life. Without them, I felt completely lost!
It made me realise how much I love and appreciate food and how much I enjoy socialising over a meal or glass of wine and how much I love to cook. I have a new-found respect for everything that I consume. I have been privileged enough in my life to never have had to feel hunger for more than a few hours and this was quite a reality check for me. I was grumpy as hell for those three days (thanks to those around me for just putting up with it!), but nonetheless I am so glad that I tried this out. (Losing a kg or two was a nice side-effect as well).
I can’t say that I’ll do it again in a hurry, but I’m pretty sure that I will do it again in my life. It’s like getting a tattoo…sore as hell, but feels good at the same time.
This weekend the manimal took us away to Riverman Cabins in the Tonteldoos Valley, just outside of Dullstroom for a much-needed escape from the crazy of the city. An old farm with tranquil guesthouses, complete with lambs, cows, two trusty greyhounds and some fishing dams did the trick.
I’ve said it plenty of times before and I’ll say it again here…are you listening carefully…we live in the most beautiful country in the world!
I could spend the rest of my life exploring South Africa and the diverse surroundings and nature that most of us take for granted. Around every corner is something new and delicious to explore and enjoy. This last little holiday reinforced that for me.
Dullstroom is a quaint little town just outside of Middelberg with small arty shops, pubs, chocolatier, trout shops etc. Oh and of course a cheese shop! I would never miss that. The actual cheese farm, Bergen Cheese, is in Tonteldoos – about 10 minutes from Dullstroom and is also a restaurant (with cheese mentioned a lot of the menu, of course!). The cheese farm offers tours where they show you how the cheese is made, but the cheese maker was away and I didn’t get to experience it 🙁
Tonteldoos is really tiny and there’s not much to mention about it, but there are plenty of trout farms for fishing if that’s what you’re into, otherwise some serious chilling is on the cards in a beautiful landscape.
There are also plenty of interesting farm roads for mountain-biking, which I tried my hand (poor aching legs) at…I think I nearly died! Spinning is a walk in the park, but actual mountain biking…that’s another freaking story!
I also tried my hand at pulling a fish hook out of the manimal’s head…it appears that I’m not so good at that either.
Okay, enough babbling…the point is that it was such a nice getaway, not that far out of Jozi – only about 3 hours max, and…yes you guessed it… I Heart South Africa!
This was the first Buddhist Retreat Centre in Africa and attracts people from all corners of the world. It was created by Durban-based Dutch architect Louis van Loon who bought 140 hectares of derelict farmland and turned it into this tranquil paradise.
“Over the next decade he dug up pine seedlings on the roadside and replanted them on the farm to get a fast-growing forest going. Then he added indigenous trees. There are thousands of them now, attracting 160 species of birds, including the endangered blue swallow. For both accomplishments, the centre has been awarded National Heritage status.” Read more: http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/ixopo.htm#ixzz1Y6vdEAAQ
In search of some quiet and some sanity, I definitely chose the best place for that. Although it is called the ‘Buddhist Retreat Centre’, anyone is welcome and your spiritual/religious beliefs are of no consequence. It really is a place of peace and tranquility, and the most divine vegetarian cooking you have ever tasted!
The recipes used have been so widely acclaimed that they have created 2 recipe books from them (Quiet Food: A Recipe for Sanity and The Cake the Buddha Ate: More Quiet Food – both available on Amazon.co.uk, the links will take you there) and completely epitomise healthy, hearty, fresh meals made with care and love. Lots of fresh ingredients are used, a lot of the from their own vegetable garden, and time is taken to ensure that the end effect is wholesome. I’ve tried recipes from both the books and they really are amazing – even my non-vegetarian friends had a taste of some of these and are currently trying to figure out a way to get their husbands to try it without giving it the ‘vegetarian food’ stigma that most South African men believe. (i.e. that all meals need some meat and vegetarian food is merely a starter)
-Try the Malay-style ‘Bobotie’ with the baby caramelised onions (you’ll need both books for that)
My ears were ignited with only the sounds of birds and wind and I smelt flowers wherever I walked. I can’t even remember when last I experienced that. The staff are the most peaceful and friendly people you will meet and every moment there is just soothing.
I managed to do some yoga on my own in the beautiful meditation hall every day, Chi-Kung in the gardens and tried out meditation. Reading and walking were the main activities of the day, with some really stunning walks and view points of the hills and valleys. A run through the forest in the morning was also an amazing experience. My camera was alive as well and it didn’t get much of a break the entire week!
Read my yoga post for a bit of a funnier side to this whole retreat story… Kiss My Asana.
I’d really recommend this for anyone needing a real break from the fast- paced real world – 4 days is a good period for a mid-week self-retreat.
A few of the crazies and I took the recent very conveniently placed holidays to take a real break from, well, everything we know, and packed up and headed off into the deep Transkei.
As South Africans, we are always itching to dash off overseas for a holiday when we actually have such amazingly beautiful places right here in our own country. All we need to do is rough it up a bit, go off the beaten track and we will find places like this for a ridiculous fraction of the price of an overseas holiday.
Okay, this one was quite FAR off the beaten track, I won’t lie about that, but the treacherous bends and a few encounters with near-death on the mountainside gravel dongas (I’d like to call them roads, but that would be lying), was well worth it.
Absolute untouched, unspoilt, rural beauty.
We stayed at Swell Tours Guest Lodge, a modest and rustic “lodge” on the north side of the Mdumbi river. We lived amongst the locals, minutes away from the untouched beach, with the locals helping us out wherever they could.I would highly recommend this place if you are interested in this kind of holiday – the owners are unbelievably supportive of their neighbours and in return very well respected in the area as well. It was just so easy and quite perfect, really.
The Xhosa people are so friendly and accomodating and I was quite touched by how happy they were with the little that they had. Well, depending on how you look at it, they are probably the ones who have so much and we are the ones that have very little. Humbling.
Life in the fast lane came to a grinding halt and we were very quickly forced to slow down, relax and feast on prawns, crayfish and oysters for next to nothing. Oh, and take a slow stroll down to the beach every now and then. If you’re into more than that, there are plenty of activities like surfing (the lodge is actually a surf lodge), kayaking, hiking, shebeen tours, horse-riding (although you may have to catch your own horse – true story), etc.
All in all, a truly memorable holiday that I hope you will also get to experience in your lifetime.
Support our country – there is so much untouched beauty here – you never know how long it will last.