i don’t want a house and garden with a dog and weekend DIY projects.
i never thought i would get married because i thought that a husband and kids automatically came with those things and would make my world smaller and more confined. more normal. and then i met luke, equally dismissive to the expectations of society (but in a still-shower-every-day-and-pay-taxes-every-year kinda way) in the early days of our falling in love, we stretched out in an old broken down cottage in the transkei. with an endless mess of stars above us and imagined which cracked concrete slab would become the main bedroom. we mentally repaired piles of bricks into walls and windows overlooking the sea. we curled up on the goat poo and broken glass floor of our future front porch and dreamed of a day when a little bit of the wild coast would be ours.
the future is unfurling beautifully before us. we bought an adventure. i’m reluctant to call it a ‘cottage’ because it’s little more than that first heap of bricks and turds, but there is a tiny patch of wild tropical bush on a little lagoon on my favourite coast in the world where i can breathe in the salty air and the sweeping view and declare it “ours”
for now, anyway.
for those unfamiliar with the transkei, it’s an amazing stretch of land in what is now the eastern cape. during those dark days of apartheid, the transkei was declared a ‘homeland’ (and therefore out from the jurisdiction of south africa) for the rural xhosa people. to this day it is still run by tribal chiefs and ancient traditions. under apartheid, people who wanted to build a cottage perched on one of the rolling green cliffs overlooking the flawless beaches had to obtain permission from the chief and the deal was usually sealed with a cow or three. there are hundreds of such cottages in various states of disrepair all along the +/-500km of coast. upon the collapse of apartheid it came back under the governance of south africa and all of those cottages became illegal. some owners were issued with an official deed-like document but most weren’t, or it has since been lost or smoked or ingested by goats. few homeowners are on solid ground there, legally. it’s up to the local community of xhosa people to embrace each cabin owner as the rightful occupant. it still feels wild, thus it’s name. it has remained mostly unchanged for hundreds of years, barring a few dirt roads and a dotting of ramshackle cottages.
we have started this adventure. we have our children’s god-parents as co-investors. money has changed hands. the chief has given approval. we can start fixing it up and making it more habitable.
if we get chased out by legality. then that’s that. at least we were invested in something wild. we’ll have a great story to tell and will get at least a few years of amazing holidays teaching out kids to surf and fish in those untamed, untouched waters.
my younger self who dreamed of owning property in the transkei wasn’t romanced by the property itself. what i longed for was taking a risk and chasing a dream with this incredible man by my side. throw in a few bronzed barefoot kids, and i’m one happy camper.
except that we’re upgrading from camping. or down-grading…have a look below and decide.