Sunday, July 17, 2016

South African Memory

My friend, Sharon, recently sent me a picture of myself from a trip I took back in 1989 when I visited her and her husband in southern Africa.  They were living in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa at the time and together we visited a range of places in South Africa and Zimbabwe.  Her gift got me digging for some of my own pics and re-remembering of one of our little adventures.
 Ah, how old pictures stir the memory. During my extended visit to South Africa, my friends (and hosts) planned a couple of adventures for us to enjoy. One was a getaway to a Bed & Breakfast on a homestead outside of Worcester, South Africa.
 The farm was set in the middle of a great valley (pic #1) and was first established by Dutch colonists in the 17th Century. The family lived in a modest contemporary home on the farm. They converted the original structure, built in the 1690's to a guest cottage. It was small and cozy and very well appointed. it was so much nicer than those original inhabitants could have ever imaged, but still it was awe-inspiring. Like being allowed to spend a night on the Mayflower replica in Plymouth, Massachusetts--only it wasn't the replica!

I seem to remember that the ground floor was divided into two rooms: a sitting room and a bedroom. Through a trapdoor in the wood plank ceiling with the use of a crude wooden ladder, you could access the attic, and the owners of the B&B had made that into a second sleeping space--the space I slept in. It was too small for me to stand up in except at the apex (I'm 5'11"), and the ceiling of the space was the roof!--the underside of the thatched roof. Talk about super cool! I remember laying there on the little bed and listening to the sounds of the valley. The night was filled with insects chirping nearby and Baboons calling out in the distance.
 After breakfast, the farmer took us up a rough dirt road to a point along the edge of the valley (pic #2). We disembarked and then began the most amazing hike. He guided us up a ravine carved into the side of the valley by millennia of rainfall. As we hiked, the path went from expansive to narrow following the rut created by a stream. Sometimes we would encounter a pool that reflected the layers of pre-historic geography and present day flora (pic #3). At one point we found the skeletal remains of a baboon left in the cleft of a rocky outcropping.

 Eventually, we reached the plateau and were able to look back down into the crevice of the earth we had ascended (pic #4). And along the way there were encounters with the national flower of South Africa in it's natural setting. The proteus flower is like none other, and it is magnificent (pics #'s 5 & 6).

 Finally, this is a picture of my friend Sharon (pic #7), who was one of my hosts on that trip with the ravine and valley in the background.

Some want everyone to think the world is a scary place. But I know that it is scary. And amazing. And beautiful, interesting, historical, geological, biological.... Filled with people and animals and plants who are overwhelming benign, helpful, generous and gracious. That's my experience...and I'm sticking to it!

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