Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you wake up in the crisp freezing winter morning, with the luxury of a weather check. The minute you see the Sun symbol and the temperature above 8 degrees, a sign that today is the day to follow the contour maps that have taken hours of planning on Google Earth to mark out with that dayglow pink pen. Hours and hours spent phoning farmers, Botanist experts, town-planning and all the administration that goes into putting a project of this vision together.
(Photograph by Liza Karp)
Sometimes I ask myself, why I can’t just go walk-about like a normal person and just enjoy having the privilege of being free in nature. Why does there always have to be this big vision, and every time I am reminded that this is not about me. I have been blessed with this extraordinary life and I’ve been dreaming of this work for a very long time and the time has come for me to give something back. It is time for all of us to change our consciousness and think more about what we have learnt and what we can share. So, finally today is a day I can pack my back-pack, flask of chi tea, some fruit and a sandwich, bundle up in my warm gear, and walk out the back door. Today I chose to head on out in the opposite direction of the planned first day’s walk with a dear friend, who knows me well and is happy to keep to my pace.
I’m always so grateful when I get a chance to walk with a truly close friend who can give me feed- back on a vision that sometimes seems too big to hold. Off we go along the railway line and its many splendours, the miracle of finding indigenous plants raising their faces shyly hidden away amongst the smothering aliens all along the path. The glee of the train passing and the young afro-framed young man driving the train, who is so delighted to be greeted by us that he practically falls out the train waving at us, hooting the Train’s hooter so rhythmically and loudly that my mother 10km’s away is smiling, because she knows he has just come upon us. The joy as an Eagle-owl flies out from in front of us, startled and surprised. The absolute delight as a young steenbok jumps leaps high into the air in the field beside us, or the gratitude of taking our shoes off to wade through a fresh water stream from a reservoir in the midday sun.
The relief as my friend complains that she is getting bored of the path, when at the next curve we are presented with a huge dam on the farm Voerhoede, with its myriads of birdlife of which I recognise very few like the blue-crane, or two little funny birds woo wooying in a funny voice with pom-poms on their heads, or long legged elegant birds who do ballet as the water laps their padded ballet pose while standing and wading in the water, some wild ducks and some that look like tall exotic swans… We take a well-deserved lunch break and lie down and take a power nap.
Then off we go to be greeted by a white stallion, nostrils flaring, his white mane and tail flowing out behind him as though appearing like a unicorn out the alien forest, obviously separated from the herd below. My friend calls to him and he turns around and gallops towards us, but stuck behind the fence. The herd then gallops across the valley and disappear into the forest, shortly afterwards, much to our relief, we see the loan stallion galloping down into the valley and back into the forest hot on the trail of his herd. I pretend for one fleeting moment, that these magnificent animals are free!
Onward we continue to the Ghost house to be met by my new best friend, who is an active member of the community and a fantastic link to all the people who can collaborate with me to make this vision a
reality. Not only do we get welcomed into the village with the best cappuccino, but we also get to witness the old Mercedes Diesel bus, Wange, which has been lovingly restored back to life, rev up. She will be meeting us at Platbos on our last day. A perfect end to a perfect day as my sister arrives to collect us, shrugging her shoulders and saying "Really Ayala, what drives you?'' if only she knew.....