(In South Africa September is ‘Tourism Month’. As part of the launch, Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency invited me to join them on a four day promotion, as their guest, discovering some more of this adventure province.)
Glimpses of Spring gave way to rain during the night.
We woke to a world as refreshed as our souls.
Breakfast at Prana Lodge is a stylish affair.
We say our goodbyes & head towards Inkwenkwezi Lodge.
An easy drive, despite the rain, in our comfortable VW Amarok.
At Inkwenkwezi we meet Elephant & Cheetahs up close & personal, Israel, our guide telling us stories of these ‘children’ of his.
For lunch we head to Kidd’s Beach, meeting Malcolm & Terri at Breeze Inn Bed & Breakfast.
They’ve created a home away from home for travellers.
An exquisite view combined with exquisite food.
They tell us of Hamburg & the Fish River Lighthouse and as we head towards Bathurst, we take small detours along the way.
In Hamburg we meet Luvuyo at his boxing club for kids.
We talk of hope. Of change. Of giving children someone to look up too.
We meet Noluntu as well.
At the Keiskamma Art Project.
We’re astounded by the talent & resilience of artists hidden in this village.
We’re reminded that travel is about more than main routes & arriving at your destination on time.
From Hamburg the Amorak takes us Lighthouse hunting.
The Lighthouse at Fish River was errected in 1898.
It still works & beautifully kept.
On our way to the Lighthouse we ask a group of ladies for directions.
They’re on their way to the Lighthouse as well.
Not as tourists, but for a funeral.
We invite them to ride with us, as they are on foot & even though it is a quick drive, as pedestrians they would only reach their destination well after dark.
We greet & pray a safe journey to each other.
It is late afternoon already.
We find our way to the Pig & Whistle Hotel in a beautiful old english town with a huanted hotel, the oldest licensed pub in South Africa, amazing artists & musicians and stunning people.
We start the evening in the hotel’s pub.
We do supper at the Thursty Monkey.
Breakfast at Flutterbeys.
We browse art shops & antique shops & vintage clothing shops.
I find a book we’d been talking about in a second hand book store & bump into an old friend from days when the next day’s homework was the most we had to worry about.
All the while accompanied by the ‘Mayoress’ of Bathurst who is also the organizer of the Bathurst Country Affair, which takes place annually in October.
I fall in love with the work of a carver.
And with a people who’ve created something stunning, from history & hope & diversity.
You need time to travel.
To taste & experience.
Time to linger.
Allow places & people to seep into your being.
But time we do not have on this trip, a pre-cursor for journeys to come.
Perhaps with my Zuko & Tribe by my side.
As the sun sits high we check out at the hotel, load our luggage, say more goodbyes.
Amakhala Game Reserve is waiting for us.
Beautiful African Rooms.
Game viewing & new friends.
We’re staying at Amakhala’s Safari Lodge where Kayi & Bernie welcome us & settle us in, before high tea is served, to sustain us through our game drive into supper.
We’re joined by the Steinhouzers from Germany as we view Giraffe, Lion & Elephant, along with Zebra and an assortment of other wildlife.
There is a stop as the sunset.
As I listen to this European family talk of their experiences, I am reminded, to always look at my country through their eyes.
Perhaps tourism operators would do good to do that too.
To see its beauty as if for the first time.
To be in awe & wonder of its magnificence.
To savour her, the mother who sustains us.
To embrace the diversity, a breathtaking tapestry, keeping us warm.
Supper is butternut soup, lamb shank & pears soaked in a sweet red wine sauce.
The conversation is slow & excited all at the same time.
As I find my way to my rooms, late in the evening, I listen for the whispers of wilderness.
The quiet whispers here at Amakhala.
The insistent whispers of the past few days, deep inside my being.
‘It is good’.
‘It will be well.’
‘We are fortunate.’
And I smile, for it is truth.