Day 3: A walk with friends 

I went for a walk today, to use different muscles after so many hours in the saddle.
Joining me was my delightful young German companion, a volunteer at the stables, the two resident dogs and a ginger cat!!!😻
We set off on a trail marked ‘Fynbos’ with no idea where it lead nor how long it would be. It took us almost two hours and our remarkable cat walked with us the entire way!!!
The dog’s of course ran back and forth and in and out and up and down exhausting us just watching and we took our weary bodies up through beautiful leucadendron forests – taller by far than we.
We passed a dam used usually for swimming and kayaking which sadly was empty, another one which delighted the dogs; beehives, protea fields, and grasses with strange scents.
Everywhere again we saw butterflies – such a good omen in these times.
Different continent, different ‘friends’ the same unity of spirit as we take a walk


 

Day 2 – long, long, remarkable 

If you are wearied by my use of superlatives – please move on.

Because today is filled with superlatives, both with respect to the world I saw and with respect to how my body feels now!!😜😜
Julie and I had coffee and cereal this morning and left on our mounts, joined again by Breyten and Patch.
Another perfect day, slight breeze to take the edge off the heat, few clouds to make photographs more interesting and horses eager to move.
And move we did. Did they forget I put down beginner on the form? Did they forget I am three times their age? Sometimes it felt like that 😜

Our start took us through hills filled with Leucadendron – miles of them, green with pink tips, bulging with energy following massive fires a few years ago. It felt as though if Luke and I stood still for a while they would flower before our very eyes. As far as we could see, these green gentle bushes.

Then hills and hills of proteas – breathtaking
The ground was different today – sandy, soft, tough going I am guessing.
I know you may not drive and be on your phone, but no one told me I couldn’t use my phone while riding. So there I was, trying to get a signal; reins loose; gentle walking; looking down at my phone; happy as Larry 😂

And then a large male bushbuck jumped out of the bush, Luke jumped out of his skin and I nearly jumped out of the saddle 😂😂😂😂

BUT I didn’t; I gripped legs tightly, gathered the reins, saved the phone and decided perhaps I could , after all, call myself a rider !

Steep climbs – up and down, Luke trusting me and me him.

We saw the baboons today, sitting on a rock above screaming at us (apparently they don’t like horses 😂)

And one more steep hill revealed another world of beauty- before us was the Atlantic Ocean ; no words can describe the beauty; the privilege, the pinch myself this is real moment.
And for the next hour we had the sea and mountains before us. Such majesty and beauty : how can anyone say He is not amazing. It was beyond description. We could see as far as Cape Point !
After a short break to water the horses. I saw the saying come to be; we led them to water, filled the tub, and even though we told them in English, German and Afrikaans that were would be no more water till camp, we could not make Patch and Sparkey drink 😂😂😂😩😩
And then the dunes. Miles and miles of white sand.

We saw no one the whole day and it felt as though we were the first people in the world to arrive here. At times the sand was hard and I could hear Luke’s hooves crack the surface and in other parts so soft the animals sunk deep into the white sand, making me grateful I wasn’t walking 😊

And finally the beach, wild, isolated, waves roaring, amazing and exhilarating. No talking, just hand signals.

It was high tide so at times we had to wait for the waves to subside and rush through the gaps.

And suddenly a long stretch  of uninterrupted beach, in all this time we saw only 3 fisherman. And thousands and thousands of cormorants, filling a huge rock, and in the distance looking like a forest on the beach – literally thousands of them. They flew into the waves, diving like kids do, under the waves – amazing
Dolphins, we counted 4 also played in the surf – the whole sight somewhat surreal .
And we cantered, and cantered. Spray on my face, the even sound of Luke’s feet in my ears. My mind trying to absorb it all, the sights, sounds, the sensations. My body trying to adapt to the rhythm. “Trust your horse, trust yourself, trust your body”

And I did.
And then we reached the end of the beach and turned into the dunes again. Suddenly there was silence, the sound of sea blocked by the sand.
Up and down we rode away from the beach and each up brought the sound of the sea and each down took it away.

Surreal.
We still had two hours riding ahead of us. Completely different fynbos again. Trees burnt black looking like skeletons, with green new growth all around.

I saw butterflies everywhere – all day surely a good sign that the bush is healthy.
I cannot lie, the last hour was hell. My body was exhausted and trotting was painful. Every canter saw me holding onto the saddle ( thank goodness for a trail saddle) to save my back, or was it my kidneys, or perhaps my thighs, or was it my mind?
But I made it to Stanford River Lodge, let the others care for the horses, made a cup of tea, had very hot bath and am now nursing very tender thighs.
6 hours about 34 kilometres
Would I have missed this and saved my body? Not on your life. Although perhaps I should answer that tomorrow 😜






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Trail riding 

Trail riding is quite a solitary experience .

Of course I am not riding alone; there is Breyten ( keep wanting to call him Breytenbach) riding Patches ( very original name😜) and Ella on Sparkey.

Essentially though I ride alone as we travel in single file.

Conversation does ebb and flow, but there is much more ebb than flow.
Which leaves me solitary, to gaze, to marvel, to think, and to not think.
To feel this 600kg animal responding to a slight squeeze of my knees.

To go up a mountain side, lifting my weight off his hindquarters and to feel the strength of his forequarters pulling us up.
To gaze again, and see horizons blue and distant, mountains blue and shadowed, sea to infinity.
To find that rhythm with him when he trots so it becomes easy and as if we are one.
It’s an amazing thing. This horse-man thing.
I have to trust him going down an equally steep mountain side. (Had I forgotten the rule – what goes up must come down 😩). In fact there was a notice – caution steep descent (do horses read? – anything I guess is possible 🐴📃these days). In reality it was probably for the Klipspringer mountain bike trail.
But again I digress – back to that trust. This downhill was quite something and Luke I think trusted me to keep my weight off his shoulders as he gingerly worked his way step by step down a mountain slope.

I trusted him not to slip and send us flying (I would happily have dismounted and walked in parts) but there you have it – I didn’t and he didn’t
And we were soon trotting again comfortably on more level ground.
All the while Patches and Breyten were ahead and I presume Ella and Sparkey behind ; each of us alone on our worlds and not alone.
It’s an amazing thing. This horse-man thing.

Ride : day one

I wish I could share this day with you, I wish I could show you all the amazing things I have seen. I wish I could capture the sound of the wind in the trees, or the feel of the breeze in our faces as we canter along.
I wish I could take photographs of all I experienced; the tiny tortoise on the road; the kahia (homestead) with an afdakkie (no Aussie equivalent 😂) with every metal contraption on its roof – including a kitchen sink!!!

I wish I could share this day with you, I wish I could show you all the amazing things I have seen.

I wish I could capture the sound of the wind in the trees, or the feel of the breeze in our faces as we cantered along.

I wish I could take photographs of all I experienced; the tiny tortoise on the road; the kahia (homestead) with an afdakkie (no Aussie equivalent 😂) with every kind of metal scrap you can think of on its roof – including an old kitchen sink ! The hen with her chicks scuttling out of our way as we rode past.

The added height of being on horseback gives angles, views, approaches not seen on foot or bike and of course access where cars can only dream of going 😜
And the views: whichever way I looked, mountains, sea, sky, clouds – beauty beyond expectation.


We rode for about four hours today. Through fields of proteas, grasses, Erika’s of all different reds, tiny blue flowers, bold yellow ones, white, pink and every shade of green the eye could conceive of.

The birds, or rather their calls as they flirted from one plant to another with every so often the streak of copper, red, green as a sunbird  shone against the light.

Baboons that must have travelled parallel to us as we heard them calling all the while although we never saw them. 
Luke, my large brown gelding is the kindest animal, not perhaps what I imagine they refer to as a forward moving horse, as I spent much time hoping his walk would get sprightly 😜. But he trotted and cantered easily so that, just like dancing when your partner leads well, I managed easily on his back when his energy was up.


I just wish I could share today with you in more ways than  just this blog.
While women are known for being able to multi task (my girls always say I do too many things at once 😜)- even I failed to multi task today ; riding and taking photographs , not my thing 😢I pulled my horse up many times to take shots, but finally gave up. My iPhone doesn’t respond to gloved fingers so every shot involved degloving – why not just leave off the gloves I hear you ask- I’m old 😩 my hands are fragile and added to that the sun is still warm ☀️

We had a lovely late lunch – home made bread (from Stanford) cheese, avo and fruit. I’m in a self catering chalet make that a Woolies catered ( how did we ever manage before Woolworths?) with Julia (my young German chaperone,cook, companion.)


I’ve had an hours walk exploring and bird watching, a hot shower (no bath 😩) and am now seated on my verandah, hot cup of tea, chocolate, feet up looking at a stunning view (as a beekeeper moves his hides right in front of me 😊)

Luke is out to graze, the sun is setting, the lasagne almost ready, wine cold, bed calling.

Can life get any better?

I am so so grateful .

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Reminder of an optional way to live
Our kitchen- past visitors memories 😂

A Remarkable Experience

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A week with Neville Jones, http://www.experientialtravel.com.au was a wonderful experience – and a great way to explore Africa.     He organised the whole trip with such grace and thoughtfulness, that we moved seamlessly from one amazing experience to another, including seeing ‘the gorillas’;  something on many people’s wish list.    I was so so fortunate to be given the opportunity.

This part of our adventure began with us staying at the Buhoma Lodge, in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.   The staff were, as everywhere, courteous, helpful and knowledgable.   The lodge, I think is designed to prepare one for what lies ahead – a steep climb to our room with a view – we were quite puffed by the time we reached the verandah and were grateful we didn’t have to carry our bags, all be they small and soft (a condition of travel by the way for the light aircraft we used).

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The stairs to our room!
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and the view
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The verandah

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As always, our meals were delicious and full of surprises, like Marmite which we never see in Australia 🙂

And the conversations with other guests interesting.   The exhilaration of those who had just returned from seeing the gorillas was such that they almost glowed with a bright light;   and so was the talk about ‘how tough the walk had been’.

 

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The Impenetrable Forest

If the truth be told, I was beginning to dread this walk.   Not 36 hours earlier I had walked to see the Ik people and did not relish the idea of an equally tough walk in the future, let alone the same week!!!!!    I did not sleep that night, debating with myself as to whether my damaged leg was a valid excuse not to walk; what if I didn’t keep up with the others; what if my boots failed me (I was not, as mentioned before, equipped with state of the art hiking gear I saw around me).  I most definitely felt like the country bumpkin (in my borrowed shirt and pants with not one pocket😂😂)  surrounded as I was by high Tech Trekkers speaking foreign languages with every cadged that opens and shut !!

But cowardice won and I did not admit that I was too nervous to do the walk.   Although Karen, I am sure sensed it as she encouraged me hugely to ‘give it a go’ as one says and off we went.

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The beginning….leaving the lodge

And  I discovered, it is all about ‘the benchmark’.   So when people told us how hard the gorilla walk was I used my benchmark and was fearful. Thankfully their benchmark was clearly different, this walk was a ‘walk in the park’ – a rather big park I admit, but an walk in a park nonetheless.   We had a different benchmark after our ‘Ik walk’.

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A rather large park….
Again armed guards, this time to protect us from wild gorillas (as opposed to habituated gorillas) and forest elephants;  a group of porters to carry our back packs and pull and push us up or down as required, the trackers and our leader.   They together with our merry group;
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Our Leader
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some information
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attention being paid
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who wouldn’t smile with such a priviledged job
the three of us, an elderly English couple who made me feel young again; a young Irish lass travelling alone and two Ugandan men travel photographers working with the Ugandan tourist board and the rest set off to find the gorillas.
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wish I could capture the sounds
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or the feel as we set off
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some coped with the incine better than others 🙂
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It was steep, but Oh so beautiful
The forest is a little like a garden of Eden or at least as I imagine it to be.
Strange, one seldom hears talk about the forest, lots about the gorillas and the toughness of the walk, but I have yet to hear anyone talk about how beautiful the forest is.
If I had a regret, it was that we were ‘on a mission’ – to see the gorillas, and there was no time to stop and absorb the detail of the trees that reached to heaven, the flowers that were so tiny, the trail of ants that went From who knows where To who knows where or look for the birds we could hear throughout the walk.
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Garden of Eden?

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The Impenetrable Forest

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Took my breath away

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the detail

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looking

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 We were lucky – 3 hours into walking we found the gorillas. This group (the Mubale group) consisted of 12 individuals and we were lucky to see all 12, including a one week old baby.
What a sighting – I did not presume to photograph – with several very serious photographers on our team, so these photographs are a mix of mine, Vincent Mugaba and Michelle Davies (who saw them the following day)
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one week old – photo by Karen Weskob
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This is my new baby – K Weskob
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one year old – K Weskob
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photo by K Weskob
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K Weskop

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looking
My first glimpse was, ‘Oh’.
I remember thinking, ‘so this is the gorilla’.
For a second there was almost nothing, I was a ‘blank’.
Then she moved to look my way and I saw her hands and arms and I was absolutely in the moment.   There was a mother cradling her one week old baby in one arm, and eating leaves, quite nonchalantly using her other hand, while watching me.
I do not say a gorilla, but rather a mother, everything about the way she nursed her infant was human.
There was much excitement amongst our little group and looking alongside me, eyes were moist.
It was fascinating to watch her watch us.
Some of us were in the moment and others were capturing the moment; with such intensity, I wonder if they were present at all.
And I wondered what she made of us.
Her expression relaxed and inscrutable.
At one point her baby stretched out its arm onto her chest, it was exquisite – tiny fingers and little arm, so perfect.  With the utmost gentleness she took that tiny hand and tucked it back under her arm.   How many times did I touch my children’s hands when they rested on my chest just as she did.
There was another female with a youngster, hanging onto her back, looking at us with curiosity and Michelle watched the same youngster playing in the trees, showing off his/her climbing prowess 🙂 🙂 🙂

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And then He was pointed out to me.   I didn’t realise what I was looking at to begin with.   Sitting across the path was a gorilla – big, but nothing to alert me.   And then he stood up, and the silverback was Large.   It is, I think impossible to describe in words the aura about him.   The confidence and authority that exudes from his body is so visible there was no need for my guide to ask me to move back, as he approached, filling the tiny path, lumbering forward as if I didn’t exist; he was Magnificent.   He ambled past me, his foot touching mine as I leant back out of his way.   Did I breath?   I think so.   Did I tremble?
I don’t think so for fear of touching him in doing so, he was that close.

Sneak peek at a 7 grab from my Uganda Highlight video that I will post in a few days.

A post shared by Experiential Travel (@nevillejonesphoto) on

It was extraordinary.
And yet, not  intimate in the way the contact with the mother was.
50 minutes up, said our guide; surely the quickest and yet the longest 50 minutes any of us had experienced.    Which meant we had only 1o minutes left when we had to leave the group.   Crazy I may be, but ‘my mother’ with her tiny baby stood, leant toward me and let me see her tiny baby as she held her in both her hands, almost an act of surrender to trust :  “here, have a look at my precious one”  and as quickly, she folded her back in her arms and walked off.
Did she know our time was up?
Did she deliberately show me her baby
Did I dream that?
Looking back, I can no longer be sure whether I imagined it or not.
But how could I have?
Did she move on with your child and marvel at our similarity, or did she not see it?
I moved on.
The walk back was different, some struggled, some talked, some were silent, there were parts that were very steep and concentration was focussed.
And still my mind wandered:   was I like her; or was she like me?…..
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private thoughts

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My lovely porter, Jennifer
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with the sweet smile
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looking
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Receiving a certificate 🙂
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A long flight….

We sit alongside each other : an empty seat between us.   And neither body spills over into it, which should give rise to a minor celebration on a long haul flight.   But there is no celebration. In fact there is nothing; not a look, smile, nod, scowl, absolutely nothing.  The empty seat is as solid a barrier as if there had been a body in it.   Each of us is absorbed in our own worlds, our thoughts private creating this strange isolation in a plane so large and full.

It is a long flight, this flight ‘home’ .  In a way it begins at 5.30am when I wake with the light in my room and go for a walk, because there will be sitting and sitting, effectively two days of sitting.

Then there is the packing.    The usual struggle to get back into my bag the stuff I easily took out on arrival.   Why doesn’t the same amount go back in? Every time!!!  So I negotiate with myself – you’re coming back soon so leave this behind, and that, and it would be a good idea to leave these shoes too.   (Which of course it wouldn’t as I will need to replace them at home 😜) but it’s all part of the long journey home.)

There are always people I didn’t get to see, the last minute phone calls- all somewhat unsatisfactory as I’m sort of half gone already; the private negotiation with my guilt about those not made;  the rushed shopping for someone I had overlooked.   The constant recalculation of how much time before I must leave going on in my head like a needle stuck on a long playing record.

There is the security of a ritual lunch out with two special special grannies.   Conversation somewhat muted, as we go over the highlights of my visit;  more effort than usual is required to fill the silences.   15107318_1377524708933297_2543157797124281220_n

And suddenly time has run out and I must leave, lock the bag, throw it on the back seat – the car is never large enough for anything but a pair of runners to fit in the boot, regardless of the little drawing of 4 people, 2 bags on the computer screen when you book it.😂

Hugs and tears, each parting is more painful than the previous and I shut myself off from the figure still standing at the top of the driveway as I drive off.

Family and friends text and call all the way to the airport so my concentration is challenged and my heart is blessed.    

img_5696Car drop off zones seem far more complex to access than car pick up zones, round here, switch lanes, to the far end.   And then back again to the airport!!!

The bag next, wrapped in plastic so no one can open it.   Not even me, at the other end 😜.  It takes superhuman patience to cut open a bag wound in ‘African’ plastic after two days of travelling.   Funny I never feel the need to do the plastic thing going into SA, but always do going into Oz, something about our customs people make me very nervous.

And then joy of joy; my most special friend is at the airport; this too is becoming a ritual.   She stands with me as I check in, she smiles and distracts me as I hand in my phone card and effectively cut off ties.   She joins me for a cup of tea as we talk and laugh and share and use up some of the three hours check in time.   She always pays and I always let her.   And then again, it’s time and I must leave again.  We laugh and hug and pretend it’s not for long and I walk through the gate that marks the point of no return.

It’s a long flight this flight home.

My boarding card says gate A00, the gate is marked A0.   

My boarding card says Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, the sign at the gate shows flights going to 5 destinations, but not Abu Dhabi.

You will understand, if you have been following my journey, why I am very careful these days about times and gates 😜😜😜

So I check with the nice young man sitting next to me; he too is going to Abu Dhabi and is confused now that I point out the minor discrepancies between boarding passes and gates.

I look for an official – but we are sitting at gate A0 – the furthest gate of the airport and no official seems to venture that far😂😂.

The nice young man and I begin talking.   We have an ‘airport conversation’ which is at the same time intimate and remote.   He is visiting his sister in Sydney for her 40th birthday celebration.   He rode the 97.4 bike ride yesterday.   He works for Sandvik;  he ran up the berg and has a nice t shirt to commemorate the race.   

I’m about to learn about his ex wife and the work she does when an official arrives, asks for our boarding passes and moves us into two rows.   We smile, we’ll finish our conversation shortly.    We don’t.   We don’t see one another again, despite being on the same plane for 23 hours.   Such is the world of travel

Drinks are served by a friendly steward.   Red wine alongside, Diet Coke for me (why did I ask for it, fizzy and unattractive) – surely I could have thought of a better companion to my dinner.    Or perhaps it is exactly the right match for my dinner, for while the menu handed out earlier with such flamboyance describes a succulent lamb briyani, the reality is far from that .    I wonder if the expensive tickets really do translate to excellent meals?  I will never know.

We doze, my silent travelling companion and I.    I wriggle, fiddle with the movies but can’t concentrate, put the flight path on and watch as I and the aeroplane on the screen move ;

Time since departure 20 mins

Time since departure 2 hours

Until 10 hours later I see

Time to destination 20 mins.

The a three hour wait and another 14 hour flight.

What’s with going home?  The same flights – reversed I’ll admit, and transits tackled with So much more care.    It is though, essentially the same.   

So why is the trip home longer?

Quieter?

Slower?

Is it the difference between looking back over something as against looking forward to something I wonder? 

One way you can create; imagine a perfect reality. 

The other way the reality is exposed to you.  The joy, the pain, the fractures.   

And there always is a fracture, sometimes appearing long after like a chip in the windscreen unnoticed till it shatters suddenly. Other times like a serpent trapped and lashing out in a frenzy to protect itself from what it sees as an enemy. 

Sometimes we can mend; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with living two different lives in two different places; sometimes not.

Sometimes it has to do with choices we make, sometimes not.

Is it the knowledge that I leave a ‘home’ troubled, groaning, needing willing hands , and I go to a ‘home’ where things are good and, out of sight, I can quickly forget about the poverty, corruption, pain and enormous beauty and potential I am leaving, that makes the trip feel so much longer?

Or is it simply I am flying into the sun, ever east, forward chasing the clock.img_5591

I doze as I sit in my seat,  34k,  last row of the plane, second leg of the flight, listening to the cabin crew talking, digesting another largely indigestible meal advertised as lunch.

I ask myself why lunch and not dinner since the plane has been plunged into darkness; every blind pulled down, forcing us to pretend it’s night although the sun shines blindingly on the white clouds beyond the Perspex.

My flight path aeroplane shows 10 hours to go

It’s a long flight ‘home ‘

The Bush..

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The vista
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Relaxed
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but oh, so alert

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grazing so contentedly

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It is a Brave soul that attempts to capture ‘The Bush’.   For those of my friends who know the Bush, words are not necessary and can never do it justice and for those readers who have never known the Bush, words are all I can offer knowing full well, before I even begin, that they can never do it justice.   So to you all, for different reasons, forgive in advance my paltry attempt at sharing the ‘Bush’

 Welgevonden (place well found) sees us rise at 5am although the waking of the birds with morning song begins even earlier.

A quick strong coffee and we are on our vehicle; bundled up against the early morning cold.   Very little is said as the smell of the overnight light rain fills our bodies with joy – it is dry and the drought here is crippling and the smell of rain is exhilarating.   We have our binoculars and the sense of anticipation that only a game drive can bring.   

It doesn’t matter how many times one walks or drives in the Bush, the unpredictability of what nature will reveal makes every trip have the same sense of anticipation.

In this case the terrain is new to us- mountainous, red boulders everywhere as we drop into open plains and climb out 0f them to reveal breathtaking vistas of the next rolling plains.

We stop every so often to gaze at zebra, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest.   We sit and savour the silence that epitomises the ‘Bush’.   Precisely because it is Not silent; only we are, as senses respond to the call of the ‘Piet my vrou’ – a bird call that Is the Bush;  the brown hooded kingfisher, so small so exquisite with such a large call you know he is there long before you can find him, the wild cry of a fish eagle.   There is the sound of the grass in the breeze, again a sound uniquely Bush.   The cicada, frogs, all contributing so that we are silent.

Suddenly energy changes and bodies tense, voices are raised in whispers, adrenalin begins to pump as right alongside us are cheetahs.   A sight so unexpected that no matter how often one has seen them, this sighting is like the first.   

And there is mother and three cubs, with bellies so full you feel they could be pregnant (except of course they cannot be) and we stare in wonder, torn between watching and experiencing or recording to experience again and again via our cameras .    And then a male appears and the most extraordinary fight right before our eyes ensues and continues for about twenty minutes;

The male harassing the mother ; the cubs running around squealing; the mother backing off ; the male coming back; the cycle repeated over and over again as we watched enthralled, horrified and bemused.   Nature revealing a pattern of behaviour no one was familiar with.

A young elephant entertains with a show of bravado that involves mock attacks at us and at an imaginary foe as he raised his ears, and little trunk and ran forward bellowing as loudly as he could.   Practicing for his future role as protector of his herd.  

The beautiful precious rhino, horns intact grazing so close to our vehicle I could have leant out and touched him.

And in this particular day it stays cloudy and cool so when we stop for a cup of tea and a rusk, we huddle together hands curved round our mugs breathing in the warmth, savouring every moment of a unique time in the Bush.   

Because every visit and every drive through our Bush is by its very nature unique.  

And so still no words describe it, which is why we say, “it’s in our blood”

8/11/2016

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all photographs belong to Jessica 🙂15027953_10207978902570098_1626473969246999285_n Another thing about the Bush – one usually makes good friends, often from countries far flung, as in our case.   Friends who kindly shared their photographs with us.

Thank you Pim Van Dam for this photograph                                         _MG_9720t.jpg

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Friends in the Bush
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Enjoying themselves outdoors
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and in…..
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Celebrating life
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and the privilege of what Ekutuleni had to offer

Time warp?

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30/10/2016

Time warp? …..

Ek sit nou in Die Kerk.

As ek omkyk sien ek net ‘onse mense’ – no rainbow nation here 😟
(This is an observation, not a judgement: after all there was no English service anywhere in the local region)

Feels no different in any way from when I was dragged to NGV as a child – more than 50 years ago. I don’t remember the sermons ( only the boredom of a young child 😂) but pretty certain it wasn’t too different from today’s :

Which began:

Die tweede (gebod) is : jy moet jy naaste liefhe soos jouself. Geen ander gebod is groter as die twee nie. Mark 12:31 ( the second commandments love your neighbour as yourself)

Ons weet wie ons is; Weet ons wat pad ons loop? (We know who we are but do we know where we are heading)

Is the question raised in the second part ….

The humility and commitment in prayer and deed to ‘sorg vir die Ander’ is real and almost visceral in this place:

With earnest prayer for courage to ‘los die bekende, en doen die Godswerk wat nie maklik is nie’ (let go of the familiar and do His work, which is not easy to do)

Which raises that universal question –

who is ‘ons naaste’ (our neighbours) :

That paradox between intellect and heart :

The paradox of this stunning complex country

Or perhaps the paradox of man ?

The struggle between Self and Anders (others)

As I said, just a reflection on this sabbath day😃

The struggle between self and selfless

As I said, just a reflection on this sabbath day 😜

Tigers and Taxis

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I had to go back to the airport today. For reasons that would make an interesting story where it not that my blood pressure would not survive the telling 😢.

Suffice to say, my little white car was to be swapped for another little white car. Well in the end, for a little bigger white car. Perhaps I should be more precise, and leave the ‘little’ out of the ‘little bigger’. I cannot reach across to adjust the left hand mirror of the new white car. Which I guess makes it a Much bigger white car since the previous ones were so little I could reach my hand out the left window almost without effort – though why I would want to is another question 😂

But I digress.

I am reading an absolutely fascinating book, “Tiger”, about a particular tiger in the Primorye territory in far east of Russia – now that’s got you intrigued I bet 😂😂. But there is more ; the book also looks at the relationship between prey and predator, through the millennia, and all the related theories and hypotheses.

I am sure you see why I have found it fascinating😂. Concepts like the umwelt and umgebung are discussed; hunters and predators use these techniques without knowing they do so. They can move into the umwelt – the world of the other, filled with the perceptions it (the other ) alone knows.

Driving from Sea Point to Cape Town airport at 4pm was a mistake – more traffic than the Monash on a bad day but it did give me time to reflect on both tigers and taxis.

And the umwelt

All us drivers still in one piece on South African roads have acquired this skill.

How else can you explain that split second when you pull back because you ‘feel’ that taxi apparently contently cruising in the lane alongside you has decided to switch lanes. Because there is no slowing down, no head turning to look this way, no indicator- No Indication At All. But sure enough a millisecond after you feel it, it happens and you are kind of prepared and a collision is avoided.

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That umwelt when

your skin feels trouble before your brain has time to register and the driver in front of you stops – just stops – to let someone out or in. And then after this event offers a casual wave out of their window in acknowledgment of your quick thinking 😟

The umwelt again;

When you, minding your own business wait patiently at the red robot (lights). Not a pedestrian in sight. The green light, first gear engaged and there it is : foot and breathe suddenly suspended by the umwelt, as a pedestrian from nowhere runs across the road against the red light in that strange double legged run facing you ( as though that offered some solid shield of protection?) and you continue to drive again with unblemished record 😃

And imagine, prior to reading “Tiger” I, and now you, just thought we were good drivers – we had no idea it was actually about the umwelt 😜😜😳

 

A Simple Twist of Fate – Joan Baez

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The only elephants we saw 🙂
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Sunday’s River area – so green right next to so dry – not that far from the Karoo
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The roadside
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Beautiful in a silent eerie way
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and large against the skyline

 

26/10/2016

Taking last minute of photos of the bridge as I left Steytlerville, I noticed a young ‘coloured’ man on the road waiting for a lift out of what for him, had been a dead end – I mean even more of a dead end that the road was – he had come to look for work.

No way could I drive past him without my conscious being troubled all the way back to PE. There is no train, there are no buses, there will be only me all day …

And I hear my ‘South African family’ gasp at the thought of my picking up a hitchhiker. But how could I not? I trust my instincts and He knows my motives and so far neither have let me down 🙏🏻
And smart blonde that I am👍🏻😜 I made him sit in front so I could ‘keep an eye on him’ 😜😳👀👁

I stopped and asked where he was going – a rather rhetorical question since wherever it was, this was the only road either he or I could take. This was lucky because while I am pretty much bilingual, the cape coloured lingo sometimes leaves me flummoxed.😂😂. And this was one of those sometimes. I had no idea where it was he was going to.

My travelling companion wore the uniform green ABSA Springbok shirt that is almost a uniform in this corner of the world; a single earring, floppy hat, slops and he had with him a kit bag – bulging, split and tied together with rope – containing all his worldly possessions. There was also The Phone in his pocket – I worked that one out cause I could hear music coming from his left leg as he leaned through the window to talk to me.

The difficulty in communicating wasn’t entirely because I couldn’t speak the lingo or understand it. Ja Mevrou, Née Mevrou, Dankie Mevrou were all quite clear. But pretty much anything beyond that was lost through the gap – a large gap in his teeth. Well, the truth is there actually weren’t any teeth that I could see.

There was a time when no front teeth was considered attractive amongst Coloureds, but whether that is still the case, or this was another physical indication of the poverty I saw all around, I cannot say.

Either way, I had my ears and brain very focussed as I tried to chat and then gave up as I drove us to wherever, when, I presumed he would say – let me off here please (or similar 😜)

He is 26 years old and had been looking for work since he was 14. The longest job he had been offered was 6 months – he gushed (or I think he did) about how wonderful that had been – packing lemoene in Kirkwood. Worked for ‘n onderwys’ but only for two weeks cause he left his holiday home to go back to teach and December is too far away to wait for him to come back for two weeks.

Travelling on my own allowed me to ‘sing’ at the top of my voice or talk to myself and even answer myself . This would not work however with a travelling companion, so I tried the radio which could not ‘find a channel’ in the Karoo. I doubted my classical music would be a hit and instead invited him to use his phone. And so we travelled listening to, not rap or heavy metal, which would not have surprised me, but tikkie draai musiek and Afrikaanse liekies – not quite Sarie Maree but close enough.

Contained, each with our own thoughts.

Mine:
He’s travelling 180km because he heard there is work there – two days work mind you. He had travelled to Steytlerville for the same reason. But if there was work there it had long since been completed by someone else.

I probably should be nervous of him – people always tell me I’m mad, the things I do.
He seems ‘neutral’ enough – was going to say harmless, but that sounds like a word to use for an animal.

A Simple Twist of Fate

– what if I was born Coloured in the Karoo
– would someone give me a lift from nowhere to hopefully somewhere?
What if……

His. I can only guess
I’m going 180km because I heard there was work there. Never mind that I travelled to Steytlerville for the same reason. This one may be the one ….. Even if a weeks work.

A Simple Twist of Fate

– what if I was born White, in Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth or even Johannesburg.
– would I have a Chevy spark or a Kia Rio

And I waited for him to say ‘hier Mevrou’
He did.
Long after the turn off to Uitenhage – someone’s radar had been switched off – could equally have been mine – so back we went to the turn off and there I left my travelling companion with some Rands and best wishes ….

The future? Itinerant worker chasing rumours of employment, with dreams and prospects fading as more younger people join in the same search for a decreasing job pool. Security- plans-place to call home ( and I thought I had a problem with home😂😂) health, community?

Hope?

A Simple Twist of Fate

He went his way and I drove on to family, food, drink, phone charger, and a life I can more or less plan.

The PE wind came up and my little white car, with whom I had negotiated a truce – third and fifth gear agreed to a clear separation, so we ambled more happily at 100km/hr now, nothing over though or those wheels again 😂were blown about on the freeway.

The scrub along the way had a less than usually bedraggled appearance :- hundreds of coloured plastic bags were caught in them and filled with the wind so they looked like giant coloured flowers
I so wanted to stop and take a photo but would probably have been blown to Cape Town and without my toothbrush – well that wouldn’t do. 😜