To someone unfamiliar with the area, the notion of a water or energy shortage in Mossel Bay might seem counterintuitive, if not utterly bizarre. After all, the town is far from wanting in the way of seawater, and it often seems to pulse with the electric vitality of the many who call it “home” or “home-away-from-home.” But unfortunately, the fact remains that Mossel Bay must adapt to the conditions created by the Western Cape’s resource quagmire. Intermittent load-shedding, for instance, continues to be a reality. Nevertheless, in the midst of the dilemma, life goes on—and does so robustly.
Mossel Bay’s resiliency finds two of its finest expressions in Lynette and Tanya. The women have only resided in the area for a combined total of 13.5 years, but already, Lynette admitted with a chuckle, they have grown accustomed to “liv[ing] off the land.” According to the pair, a pleasant existence in Mossel Bay begins with preparedness. Resourcefulness enables one to thrive, while a failure to anticipate future needs ensures future frustration. “You make sure that you’re prepared… have lots of hot water,” Tanya asserted. Immediately, Lynette chimed in: “Candles, candles work nice.” In their refusal to succumb to the desperation that so often accompanies resource constraints, Lynette and Tanya have created the best circumstances possible with the cards that they’ve been dealt. “You can see we’re not complainers… as long as there’s coffee,” they laughed.
The two view the shortages as opportunities to inculcate and expand environmental conscientiousness among those affected. For one thing, the routines that these conditions necessitate often gain enough steam to become, well, routine. The recycling of water, strategic use of appliances, and turning-off of lights “become… everyday thing[s] around here,” said Tanya. Furthermore, the concept of excess has become loathsome, as Lynette affirmed: “We don’t like waste.” Though the women do not feel that they can “really do anything about [the crisis] at the end of the day,” it has not precluded them from taking shrewd, proactive, and preventive measures as individuals. Their only wish is that more would join them in taking individual initiative against the crisis. Instead of idly complaining, Lynette and Tanya aver, their fellow residents should do “their bit… then, you know, it wouldn’t be such a problem.”
The friends recognize what a blessing it is to live in Mossel Bay—with or without the shortages. In establishing their aforementioned routines, Lynette and Tanya have been able to appreciate the city for all its coastal glory. They delight in the “holiday atmosphere,” rejoice over the “beautiful ocean” and “beautiful views,” and regard their home as a treasure to be cherished. As Lynette put it, “It’s like living on holiday… We live on holiday.” And with the “second-best weather in the world,” it doesn’t get much better. Undaunted, Lynette and Tanya are determined to combat the bay’s shortages with individual action, and they expect others to enlist in the battle.
Noah S. Martin