Oh, how blessed am I

 Oh, how blessed I am.

I have stared into the turquoise, orange, yellow and red of a dying kampvuur, with the sounds of the night all around. Lonely jackals in the Kgalagadi and Kalahari. The melancholic Skops Owl of the Kruger. The frolicking hippos of the Okavango. Giggling Hyenas, and grunting lions. Splashing ocean waves, and thundering waterfalls. 

I have laid flat on my back in the pitch dark of a Makgadigadi night, listening to the silence and touching the stars as they drift by.

Felt the sand between my toes on the beaches of Swakopmund, St. Lucia, Margate, Llandudno and Sandy Bay. Cape Vidal, Umhlanga, Port St. Johns, and Blouberg Strand.

My fingers have stroked the bark of the Tsitsikamma Yellow- and Stinkwood. The Kremetart and Tamboti of Limpopo. The Redwoods of Saasveld. The giants of Magoebaskloof, and the Cycads of Mujaji.

My eyes have seen and my ears heard the “smoke that thunders” as the Zambezi tumbles over the cliffs of the Victoria Falls, and “the place of big noises” at Augrabies. 

African sunsets have enchanted me. Lake Malawi. Walvis Bay, when the sky turns pink with the flamingos coming in to feed. Over the shonas of Ovamboland, and over the barren plains of Etosha.

I have stood on Table Mountain, looking over the fairest Cape of them all. Looked up at Gaint’s Castle. Seen the Three Rondavels, and the Three Sisters. Meandered up the misty mountains of the Zimbabwian Vumba. 

I have counted the incoming waves while sitting on “the throne” at Victoriabaai, and have gazed over the sea of clouds spread out under God’s Window.

I have heard the frost crushing under my shoes on a bitter Vrystaat winters morning, with the smell of a miskoek fire coming from a stroois nearby. But also felt the African sun burning down on my shoulders at Mkuzi, Umfolozi, Hluhluwe, and Ndumu. Pilanesberg, Palabora, Upington, and Punda Maria.

I have known the black-eyed stare of the Pel’s Fishing Owl. Listened to the Knysna Loeries at Nature’s Valley. Have been completely mislead by the call of the Buff-spotted FlufftailI. Have looked up at the cliffs of Strydom Tunnel and seen the Taita Falcon feeding its young, and have to this day never stopped marvelling at the call of the African Fish Eagle.

Pilgrim’s Rest, Matjiesfontein, Pofadder, Thabazimbi, and Thaba Nchu. Barberton, Jozini, Maun, Oshakati, Mzuzu, the Vumba and Aberfoil. Duin Sewe, Rooikop, Usakos, Okahandja, and the Kuiseb. Sabie, Meiring’s Poort, Pongola, Pafuri, and Potmansburg. 

All bring back fond memories of the good times spent there. 

I have experienced unprecedented hospitality. From a lonely Karroo couple on their land somewhere between Britstown and Vosburg. From the foresters of Chimanimani, with characters tough as leather from years spent in war. From Afrikaner and Engelsman. From the Greek family in their corner café. From the Chinese family in their laundry. From Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana, Swazi and Pedi all over the country. 

And I thought: Oh, how blessed I am.