At seven the phone rings in our room.
It is one of the Rangers.
During the night the rain had subsided & we’ll be able to go out and view some game.
Kuzuko Lodge, where we are staying, is a ‘big-5’ game reserve.
The children’s excitement soon invade our room, from next-door.
They’re dressed & ready.
They want to brave the cold & see the game.
We bite a quick breakfast.
A cup of coffee.
Then we’re off.
Zuko & Maddi stays behind in the comfort of Kuzuko Lodge’s Lounge & the care of their attentive staff.
We’re in the care of Freddie the Ranger.
The Tribe, the only South Africans on the Game Viewing Vehicle.
A German couple and a family from the UK accompanying us.
People travel great distances at a huge expense to experience what we take for granted.
We’re all impressed by Freddie, our Ranger’s knowledge of the animals & plants & environment.
I’m impressed by his manner.
His understanding of people.
His communication skill.
I ask where he studied.
We see Bufallo & Cheetah.
Rhino & Lion.
Freddie explains the value of ‘spekboom’ a succulent plant which is loved by elephant.
Somewhere he serves coffee, along the way.
He talks of his wife.
The home they bought in Somerset East.
The dream they have of sharing life.
Finally we’re back at the Lodge.
A proper breakfast awaits.
Then we pack our stuff while the children from Oppi Koppi play a final game with the children from the United Kingdom.
We settle bills.
Then find our way in the comfort of the Chrysler Grand Voyager to Somerset East.
We choose the scenic R335 slowly stumbling between farmland towards Boschberg, after consulting about the condition of the road with a fellow traveler coming from that direction.
It is beautiful.
We rush too much.
We see two jackals playing.
A herd of sheep grazing.
Some laborers loading lucern bales waving friendly as we drive by.
A deserted homestead.
What looks like a building which could have been a Church or a School building a long time ago.
Its white walls stained by the passing of time & wind & rain.
It is late afternoon when we arrive in Somerset East.
Beautiful Boschberg still watching.
Maddi needs attention.
The kind you cannot give while driving.
We make our way to the Mountain View Inn to find a room & a bed.
We meet Dafre Troskie.
And Jerry van Wyk.
We drink coffee & talk.
Jerry is an exceptional musician.
He’s been on the scene for the best part of four decades.
If not longer.
All over the country.
But even musicians grow old.
And somewhere we all need to find some warmth.
Before supper Jerry takes out his guitar & harmonica.
He plays Niel Diamond.
Some popular cover stuff.
Then he sings one of his own songs.
About the light.
Trying to find us.
About a life.
Trying to be lived.
We’ve met through a mutual friend, in Nelson Mandela Bay.
It is a pleasant surprise to discover that Jerry is our host of sorts at the Mountain View Inn.
He makes the coffee.
Lights the fire.
Dafre embraces us.
We laugh about finally finding someone with more children than our Tribe.
She & Natie have six.
If we ever ‘have’ children.
Perhaps they’re merely entrusted to us.
To share life with.
To become in relationship with, as we become alongside them.
We talk of the wonder of new life.
The devastation of loss.
We talk of making sense.
Of starting again.
Of resilience in the stead of giving up.
Dafre is a pharmacist.
Natie a farmer.
That is how they earn enough to care for their family.
What they do is much more.
They raise a family.
Love a people.
Find their way.
And each other.
Then Dafre is off to fetch ox-tail and her family.
Zuko & Maddi take a nap.
Theunsie & I play some pool.
The house erupts with children laughing, running up and down the wide hallways of this grand old house.
Mountain View Inn is more than a house.
There are apartments & a garden.
It is right at the heart of town.
You can feel Somerset East in this place.
Tell of where we come from & what we hope & what we struggle with.
Talk of freedom.
Dafre’s father is visiting from Mosselbay.
He talks of children faraway in the Americas.
Natie talks of their eldest’s growing up & going to University.
Zuko & I listen.
Dafre shows us her book.
Jerry does a last song.
Then goodbyes are said.
Natie has to be on the farm in the morning.
Dafre has a pharmacy to open.
Her father leaving early to drive back home to Mosselbay.
We have a day exploring the Walter Battiss Art Musuem, the historic town & perhaps even birding.
I remain astounded.
At the beauty of people.
And our ability to rise again.
As we see, beyond the obvious.