Journaling, Mindfulness, Travel

South Africa: Once Seen, Never Forgotten

They say one way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”

Both of these questions went round and round in my head the entire time I was in South Africa.

I knew I would love being there. But I didn’t know or could have imagined the greatness of emotions I would feel while there, nor the intensity that has stayed with me now back home.

I fell in love with SA the minute I saw Table Mountain rise above the highway on our first morning out. My flight landed at night, and my brother said to me as we were driving to his house… “You can’t see it but Table Mountain is right in front of us.” At the time, I didn’t realize what an affect this motherly mountain would have on my soul. I thought, “Cool. Can’t wait to see it!” But the moment I saw South Africa in daylight was the moment my heart became hers.

But why?? Why do I feel such a pull to this place? What is it about the energy of those mountains, those skies, those people that has me so entranced?

I still don’t know the answers to those questions. But I do know for sure my heart has found a home in the Western Cape and I miss her terribly.

I miss my brother’s adventurous spirit; his waking conversations with their parrot, Digby, and their call and respond whistles of the National Geographic theme song.

I miss my sister-in-law’s easy, almost magical way, of putting a meal together as if it’s not a worry in the world and her asking, “Would you like a glass of wine?” in that charming, seductive, hard-to-resist South African accent of hers.

I miss my two blonde-(wild)haired nieces pouncing up and down the hallway like a herd of juvenile elephants, arms flapping and voices ringing from wall to wall excitedly arriving to whatever the day has planned.

I miss Zoie’s sweet labrador smile and gentle meandering-up for a pet, though in all honesty, she’s quite content to sit patiently until you’re ready to give it.

I miss Ringo’s husky, soulful eyes and sheer delight when seeing me step outside to say hello and “chat” for a while – his loyalty and trust in someone he’s only known for days.

I miss the way a hot, sunny afternoon can turn into a breezy, cool evening – cool enough to have you reaching for a sweater. “You can experience all four seasons in one day in Cape Town,” advised my brother when asked what to pack. …And he’s absolutely right.

I miss how a simple New Year’s Eve party of family and friends on the patio can turn into a dance party while holding bowls of hearty helpings of shrimp and chicken paella.

I miss the saying, “Weather is coming,” as the clouds start to flood across the top of Table Mountain and form her mesmerizing tablecloth.

I miss the scene of the mountains rising above the horizon into what looks like clouds in the distance… I was often silently wondering, “Are those clouds or are those mountains?”

I miss hearing the term “white horses” when “white caps” (as we call them) are visible at sea on a blustery day.

I miss seeing around every bend another cliff even more beautiful than the last.

I miss the people’s sincere appreciation that you have chosen to visit and learn about their home.

I miss the way they live their lives outdoors in Nature’s Gym where the rocks and inclines are the REAL StairMasters.

I miss how the mountains seem to stand still even as you’re traveling 65mph (105 km/h).

I miss the seas’ enticement to jump in yet her quick reminders that she is still in charge.

I miss seeing animals I’ve only seen in zoos in their natural habitat with no expectation to perform, just be.

I miss hearing the roar of an unseen (nearby) lion, feeling it stir something deep inside of me, something very primal yet relatable soul-to-soul.

I miss the food.

I miss the wine.

I miss the laughter and the long chats.

I miss the sun peaking into my bedroom at 6:00am (believe it or not) and inviting me to start the day.

I miss the penguins of Boulder Beach.

I miss the twisty, turvy road (and VIEWS, my goodness!) of Chapman’s Peak Drive.

I miss the beckoning cove of Dias Beach at Cape Point… the incredible hike and hundreds of stairs to get there, the soft sand squishing through your toes, the waves rhythmically coming and going as if to say bye and hello over and over again, the striations in the cliff rocks bursting with stories of people and ships they’ve seen over the many years, the bold and beautiful rocks that have been there for thousands of years – holding many a seat for those who wished to look out to the sea and will still hold a seat for me, this one small girl who lives halfway around the world in hopes of perching there once more to sit and dream as the waves crash in.

South Africa etched a place in my soul and will remain close to my heart no matter how many miles lie in-between. Once seen, she is most certainly never forgotten.

Photography by: Patrick King

May she stay as beautiful as I remember and as strong and motherly as I recall, as she soulfully watched over my stay and guided my journey along the way.

Til we meet again…


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