addo, travel, eastern cape, addo elephant national park, wildlife, south africa

My Addo top 5

As I mentioned the other day, my mom and I recently spent a week in the Addo Elephant National Park, just to take a little break from our busy lives.

While we have this long-standing dream of doing the Camino de Santiago together (which I know we will eventually get round to), time and finances haven’t really allowed (just yet), but we both felt like taking a bit of much-needed time out, so decided to do a more manageable local trip instead.

Both avid bush-lovers, we knew we wanted to go somewhere a little wild, but also didn’t want to spend too very many hours on travel… which made Addo the obvious and perfect choice.

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You children of space, you restless in rest

social weavers in the northern cape. Nadia Krige/gypsified

Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.

For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever-distant and alone…

Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.

Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.

But these things are not yet to be.

In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields…

Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.

– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet: On Houses

Quirky quote: Saunter, don’t hike

Kogelberg biosphere reserve (Nadia Krige/Gypsified)

“Hiking – I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

– John Muir

(Just a note: I originally spotted this quote on Year In The Wild’s Facebook page. Check it out for incredible photographs and stories from South Africa’s wild places)

Latest obsession: Out of Africa

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me?

Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?  – Karen Blixen (as Isak Dinesen)

When I was a baby I had trouble sleeping. The pressing heat of a Namibian summer made swathing me in blankets close to impossible, leaving my not-yet-controllable limbs to do as they pleased: mostly flailing energetically to keep me wide awake.

Of course, there was very little my poor mother could do to relieve my discomfort and soothe my infantile insomnia.

So she devised a plan to employ the best remedy she knew would have no nasty side-effects: music. But not just any music. Oh no! She had a single soundtrack on repeat (which in those days, of course, entailed manual turning over of a tape)… the dreamy score of Out of Africa.

Now, I’m no baby psychology expert and don’t really know when memories actually start, but what I do know is that some essential part of that soundtrack got stuck in the fibers of my being.

Until this very day, those are the soothing strains of ‘home.’

But strangely, despite the central place its music has taken in my life, the film has remained largely marginalized… in that I had never actually seen it.

Well, that is, until two nights ago. And let me just tell you… I found myself intensely enchanted. (Fortunately! I can’t imagine how devastated I would have been if it turned out any differently.)

Enchanted by Karen Blixen (played immaculately by Meryl Streep), the brave baroness and master storyteller, Denys Fynch Hatton (played by the swoon-worthy Robert Redford), the tough hunter with his ever-curious mind and marshmallow-soft heart, the long-gone colonial type safari with those luxurious tents, the almost idiosyncratic gramophone, the coffee farm in the Ngong Hills, the sinewy Kikuyu and ethereal Masai.

Enchanted by Africa and her gloriously untameable wildness. Once more. As always. 

Photo: Digital Journalist

Enchanted by incredible scenes like the one where Denys washes Karen’s hair by the river while reciting a poem and the one where all the local children crowd into her home to watch the little coo coo peek out the clock.

And of course the one where they dance to Mozart playing from a gramophone while on safari.

Inevitably, I now find myself fiercely intrigued by Baroness Blixen’s life, because, well, if the film is anything to go by (and I think it is), she was one hell of a woman… the kind of woman I wouldn’t mind being.

And here is why:

Photo: My Imaginary Brooklyn

  • She trekked across African plains entirely unfamiliar to her, to take her husband and his stuck-up British friends a wagon-full of supplies to aid the little colonial war they were waging with Germany.
  • On said journey lions attacked the oxen and, for want of a rifle, she grabbed a whip and literally whipped them right away!
  • She was a storyteller.
  • Her style was immaculate.
  • While she yearned for a life less lonely than she had, she never let being alone get in the way of living out all the extraordinary adventures she dreamed of.
  • She won the heart of a gorgeous man (with an incredible character) by telling him stories.
  • Even though she was quite assertive, she treated everyone she encountered kindly and with grace.
  • With the guidance of Denys, she understood the impact colonialism was having on Africa way before most of their peers.

Can’t wait to get my hands on the Out of Africa, the book she penned under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen and her biography.

 

Karoo through the window

I say Karoo, you think what?

Probably long straight roads, hot days, sun beating down on the cracked, barren earth, thirsty sheep and little round shrubberies.

Well, after almost being washed right out of the Mountain Zebra National Park’s campsite this weekend by furious thunder storms, hail and rain beating down, I have come to know a different side of this almost mystical part of our country.

Yet, yet, yet…

It managed to make itself even more magical than ever before.

Even though we had to up and move campsites on Saturday, then brave temperatures shallow in the minus at night, huddle in almost too close for comfort tent enclosures… I have to say it was an invigorating and revitalising experience. My senses were filled and my endless thirst for wildness quenched just a little bit.

Here are some pics

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds. Nadia Krige

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds.

Vellies in the Karoo. Nadia Krige

Vellies in the Karoo.

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Windmill.

Windmill.

Vastness personified.

Vastness personified.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

Rainbow :)

Rainbow 🙂

Huisie

Huisie

Travel Tuesday: That one time I ran away

Completely contrary to my cautious nature, there was that one time I packed my bags at the end of December and ran away to the Wild Coast. It was just two days after my 23rd birthday and you had infected my homely heart with love and adventure, whisking me away in the rattle-trap elegance of a blue and white Golf.

But I did it all wrong, leaving home in a huff, and spent the journey sleeping off confused tears on the back seat, only surfacing when our travelling troupe of three stopped for a cold one in the Little Karoo. Or a pie in Port Alfred (or wherever it was). For last minute supplies in East London. And to help pitch the tents when we had finally managed to navigate the potholes of old Transkei, finding ourselves in a subtropical slice of heaven.

My heart had somewhat settled down and it all passed in a haze of fire-side banter, warm Indian Ocean waves, views from a little green hill, sweet-obsessed children, cows on the beach, fresh crayfish, mosquitos, a rainy new years day when we all decided to keep crawled into our sleeping bags…

Maybe I had hoped that the wildness of that ocean would wash over and consume me, making me a wild thing too… like you. And maybe it did… for a short while. But now, now I find it hard to remember exactly… and I can’t find the photos to remind myself.