Yesterday saw a 6 hour drive through the Natal Midlands, past the mighty Drakensberg mountains, up Oliviershoek pass and then through Golden Gate National Park, an area rich with towering sandstone and granite columns, caves and mountains. I overnighted in Ficksburg, cherry capital of SA and then circumnavigated the northen hemisphere of Lesotho, plowing through miles of beautiful, open nothingness and finally over-nighting at Gariep Dam.
I had forgotten just how beautiful the Karoo is in its starkness: somehow it is the vast emptiness, dotted with the occasional farmhouse, sheep or struggling dam which lies open for inspection by all who pass through which offers a gift of simplistic and uncomplicated beauty.
As a child I was bored to tears (and usually car-sick) whenever we drove through this part of the country, but now I find myself in raptures of gratitude. The country's woes of a fiscal nightmare borught about by a corrupt President and inept government just seem so far away and irrelevant in the face of the beauty which is the real South Africa. The rest is all illusion at some level.
This is my first holiday alone for as long as I can remember. Before I left I wondered how it would be having only me with my musings for company. I've discovered that I make a pretty good companion for myself. I can't think of a moment when I have felt lonely or bored and I feel grateful for that, especially given the number of people I know who aren't especially comfortable unless they are around others all the time.
I suppose it is for each of us to make peace with who we are and what we bring to the world and truly embrace that. I can't think of a better training opportunity than spending time alone in a vast, semi-desert in the middle of South Africa in 40 degree heat, just feeling grateful for beingto be alive.