You get used to finding those things that make you feel right at home — no matter where you are in the world. Here’s what I get up to when there’s a little homesickness in the heart…
1) Stream radio: Before yachting, I worked in radio for a little while. I love radio! It’s immediate, sincere and charged with emotion. When I miss home, I tune in to 702 Talk Radio via the TuneIn Radio application on my iPhone. When I hear the voices of John Robbie, Redi Thlabi, Bruce Whitfield or the general moans and groans of the average South African, I feel at home and right in the thick of it.
2) Read news from home: If listening to radio is awkward, I take a browse through the Eyewitness News website. And quite recently, I’ve come to really respect the journalism on Times Live (long live the changes made by dragon-ess Phylicia Oppelt). It’s a sorry thing to admit but news makes me feel rather smug that I’m away from the drama and crime.
3) Go cycling: When I first got to France, I would hire a racing bike for €50 a day (R700 or so) and head into the countryside. Eventually, I bought Maxi Jazz, my beloved Felt F95 Racer and a rather well-travelled bike in his own right. On one ride into the hills, it was five hours before I found my way back to port in what was a drizzly August afternoon. The smells, sights and stinging in my legs remind me of cycling in Cape Town. Added to the fact that the French are friendliest when they’re cycling. Suddenly, I’m right back on Chapman’s Peak.
4) Skype with friends. Phone mom and dad: With internet-based calling (Skype, Facetime, Viber etc.), friends are a phone call away. And although Arvid and I vowed to stay firmly away from Viber when we were finally reunited after a year of phone calls, it has its uses. And we’re grateful for it. I love chatting to mom and dad, hearing the dogs barking in the background and other hum-drum sounds of home.
5) Get off Facebook! You’re in a beautiful part of the world, meeting new people, experiencing new things and discovering new places … and those things will not happen when you’re on Facebook. Facebook makes you miss home more. Get off it and go exploring. Make wherever you are home by walking through the streets, eating food from the fresh produce market, making friends and pretending you’re a local.
6) Make a homemade meal: You spend so much time abroad eating in restaurants, snacking on street food and trying to take it easy on the Pringles. And you kind of forget what it feels like to whack out a pan and fry up an egg when you’re hungover. When we worked on M/Y New Beginnings, Lois would make a lamb roast every Sunday, with mash and homemade gravy nogal. A treat!
7) Drive a car: In my first season yachting, I didn’t drive for six months. And because I am yet to settle in one place and own a car abroad, I rely on public transport for a great deal of the time. Driving a car can be an exception overseas because the train and bus systems are so good. When I drive, it feels like I am on South African soil again (without the potholes).
8) Do a YOU crossword: My gran was a cross-word fiend. And I’ve taken her lead. When I’m homesick, mom posts crossword clippings from the YOU Magazine to me and I put aside an hour to do them at night. Sometimes too, I get the entire YOU Magazine and devour every page. And yes, it is a pile of junk and cringe-worthy when your foreign friends get hold of it but fuck it. Reading about the “150kg Bloemfontein woman” and how to make a good braai fire is just what the heart needs.
9) Take a bath: I’m not sure about other travellers but I have never ended up working on a yacht or at a backpackers or hotel that has a bath. When you’re overseas, you’re showering. Full stop. So when I find a bath (the few times I have), I bath and bath and bath till I’m clean in the face.
10) Drink a cuppa Rooibos or Five Roses tea: Lipton is a shame to tea all over the world. I remember paying R200 for a box of Rooibos tea bags in Argentina and also drinking my first cuppa Five Roses in months on a flight back home from France. The taste takes you home quicker than Cadbury’s.
And if all else fails, remember this:
It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realise what’s changed, it’s you.