There is a spot, not far from my home, where I go when I need a break from the world. It’s a long beach and it’s wide. It takes you fifteen minutes to walk from the road to edge of the water and an hour to walk the length of it. If I walk halfway down the beach, the rest of the world disappears and it’s just me, the sand and the sea. And the odd horse rider.
The ocean is my favourite thing in the world. It is an emotional connection, the recognition of a kindred spirit. She is full of passion. Of love and of anger; of peace and hostility. Sometimes she is calm, gentles waves lapping my toes. She can be the colour of turquoise, my birthstone, or a deep azure blue which warms your soul. Other days she is fierce and violent, thrashing across the sand and beating down from a great height. The ocean can be the most wonderful, calming experience or it can be the most dangerous situation you will find yourself in. She demands respect and you would be a fool not to give it to her.
Her salt water is healing, both physically and mentally. The only cure for motion sickness is to crack the window and breathe salty air in. The cure for heart break is the same.
The ocean is home to some of our earth’s most beautiful and vital wildlife. Wildlife which we are slowly and methodically destroying, with pollution and hunting. And I don’t only mean the tragic massacre of whales and dolphins, which is spread across my Facebook page by horrified friends. I’m also talking about over-fishing, the depletion of many of our fish species which goes widely unnoticed by the greater population.
And then there’s this idea that sharks which attack deserve to be culled, after we have walked slap back into the middle of their territory. As an African, I’m always amazed by the number of people who shake their heads at the tourists who get out of their cars in a game reserve and then agree with the culling of a killer shark. We respect our land predators; do our sea predators not deserve the same?
I am immensely lucky to live in a country which allows me to appreciate nature in every form. I live ten minutes away from some of the world’s most incredible beaches. I walk through forests every weekend and stare up at gentle mountains from my office window. I take holidays in game reserves, where the earth is red and the grass is dry and the air smells like Africa. There is no other way to describe that smell.
I am immensely lucky and it is not something I take for granted. At the moment, in the town I live in within the boundaries of Cape Town, our sand dunes are being called a nuisance. The municipality is up in arms as to how to control these monster dunes which are destroying properties and clogging up the streets. These monster dunes were once carried on the wind through the valley and settled on the beach and carried back when the wind changed direction. It was a beautiful, seamless process.
In the last twenty years, housing and business developments have sprung up which block the path of the wind and create a barrier against which the sand settles. Destroying property and clogging up the roads. This is a problem created by humans and it seems the only solution, bar knocking down the buildings in the way, is to further destroy the dunes. Eventually, presumably, the dunes will cease to exist taking with them the ecosystems which rely on the dunes for survival.
I feel most alive when I am in nature, away from my cellphone and my computer. Nature is where I can let go of stress and work through issues weighing down on my soul. It is where I am at my saddest and my happiest, where I am the most ‘me’. It is for this very reason that conservation is a topic so important to me, because without nature there is no me.
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