My journey from Cape Town to Lombok

My journey from Cape Town to Lombok

It’s 14:15 on Friday, 3 June 2022 and Lion Air JT654 from Jakarta touches down at Lombok international airport. The weather is a pleasant thirty degrees and the humidity is 80%. Lombok is a tropical island forming part of the Indonesian archipelago and is located to the east of its better-known neighbour, Bali. The size of the island is approximately seventy kilometers across and it is home to more than three million people. 

I have arrived home…

The drive from the airport to Senggigi, in the northwest of the island, takes us just over an hour. On the way, we drive through lush green neighbourhoods, and pass numerous rice fields and rows of coconut trees. We touch the edge of Mataram, the main city, before heading north to Senggigi. Our vehicle takes a right turn away from the coast and heads up a hill to the house we have rented for our first six months. On arrival, the first thing that strikes you is the breathtaking view. It takes your eye from our home across the Lombok strait to neighboring Bali. From our balcony, we can see Mount Agung, an active volcano cloaked in low clouds. 

But let’s take a few steps back. How did I get to this point of selling everything in Cape Town, South Africa, and relocating to Lombok, Indonesia? I actively started planning the migration just over a year ago. In February 2021, at the age of 55, I suffered a severe heart attack which gave me the opportunity to do some deep reflection.  What made the reflection even deeper was that we were in the midst of a global pandemic. That meant no family by your bedside in the hospital and no visitors at home during recovery.  You get the opportunity to really reflect on what’s important. Not the deadlines, not the next deal, and definitely not acquiring more ‘things’.

In my futures strategy work, I have a mantra that says: “You cannot predict the future but you can be part of creating a better future.” Maybe this was God sending me a message. Surely there is a lesson to be learned from living through a global pandemic and surviving a near-death heart attack? So how am I going to change my life?  What more signs do I need before I take the leap and change direction?

I have just completed a six-month exercise with the University of Cape Town introducing the concept of regenerative leadership. It entailed putting together a regeneration roadmap identifying the sustainability goals that the individual directorates want to embrace. Beyond the organisational goals, I have been emphasising that this is very much a personal journey for all the participants.

My move from Cape Town to Lombok is very much my own personal regeneration journey. 

We all get caught up in this crazy world of deadlines, meetings, and chasing the next deal. Don’t get me wrong I love the work that I do. I work for myself so I get to decide on my work hours and I have a rule that I don’t work over weekends. I believed I was living a balanced life; and then you get hit with a life changing event where you are forced to stop, take a step back and reflect…

I am teaching regeneration principles to senior leaders across government and academia but how connected am I to nature? How connected are the inner and outer dimensions of my life? Is the lifestyle I am living contributing to a regenerative world or am I part of the problem? I had to remove the veil and face these hard questions very honestly.

So the journey I am on is one of reconnecting.

Reconnecting to nature

For the last month that I have been living in Lombok, I have started reconnecting to nature in ways that I did not design. The house we are living in is positioned on a hill on the edge of a forest. The main living areas and kitchen only have shutters, no glass windows. That means flying insects and giant geckos, the size of my hand share this space. When we first arrived everyone was: “What the H&LL, how are we going to live here?”… four weeks later the geckos now have names. My bathroom has an open roof so when it rains, you guessed it, you get wet. The bathroom has a beautiful little garden which is also home to a frog that doesn’t bother me anymore. I realise that the coconuts falling from the palm trees in my garden is more dangerous to me than the animals that cohabitate with us.  And no I did not make that up, a coconut nearly fell on me in the first week that we arrived.

Our home in Lombok

Reconnecting the inner and outer

Lombok is known as the island of a thousand mosques. This means that you are constantly reminded of your connection to God. The call to prayer echoes across the island five times a day no matter where you go. I make a point of going into the villages and making my prayers at different mosques. By doing this I have met new people and been invited into their homes. I am still learning the language so communication is a bit of a problem but they are always overjoyed when they hear that my forefathers are from Indonesia. The connection through ancestry and religion has become an important part of my assimilation into my new life.

Invited for kopi after morning prayers

Reconnecting to a simpler life

When I boarded the plane in Cape Town on 1 June 2022 everything that I owned was either in the bag that I checked in or in my cabin bag that I took on the plane with me. This was a liberating experience. I have been blessed to live a privileged life and have never experienced hunger or homelessness. I understand that having the option to get on a plane and move to another country is an extreme privilege. I don’t take that for granted.  Going through this physical cleansing exercise of getting rid of all my “stuff” confirmed very much that my lifestyle was not contributing towards a regenerative world. I am in fact part of the problem. When I was clearing my cupboards I had five or six pairs of jeans- classic blue, dark blue, black, slim fit, straight cut …etc etc. I brought one pair of jeans with me to Lombok. For the last month that I have been, here it’s not been taken out of the cupboard once. 

Local fishermen on Batu Layar beach

I have given myself a sabbatical for a month or two and my deadlines and routines now revolve around getting to the mosque early, being in awe of sunrise, having breakfast at a warung along the side of the road, meeting locals, riding narrow roads on my scooter, walking on the beach, exploring new waterfalls and really appreciating this moment that I am experiencing right now.  I have not yet fully planned what I am going to be doing on this beautiful tropical island but for now, it is home. My journey of reconnection has only just started.

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