Year: 2019

Be Still, My Beating Heart ~ The Peace of Esiweni

  “The light of oneness is available to all of us, present in hidden aquifers where life’s waters continue to flow, waiting in a living silence for us to notice.” ― Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Pemba has the biggest, most constant smile I’ve ever seen on a guide. It’s one of the things I remember most about our safari in the Nambiti, at Esiweni Luxury Safari Lodge in South Africa. On our game drives through the reserve, we’d talk now and again, and then lull back into a content quiet in the warmth of the day, beside giraffe moving across the open plains (be still, my beating heart), or black rhinos browsing and lions drinking from shallow pools.     In the silence, we’d look over at each other and smile. I saw Pemba’s smile more often than I heard him talk. And talking was no problem for him. His beaming face simply took over, recognising the need for quiet, while communicating all there was to communicate. And I understood each message, each unspoken sentiment. How fortunate we …

Monkey Knows Best ~ Secrets of a Zanzibari Garden

  I didn’t truly see the garden until I was staring into the black face of a red colobus monkey. Up in the trees of the Oasis at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas, a David Lynch character with white hair flapping in wayward directions stared back at me, remaining so still that I wondered if he was simply a quaint statue placed in the branches. But then he blinked and I blinked back and I knew I was in the presence of something totally new to me. Such is Zanzibar. Or Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago, off the coast of Tanzania.     I had been focused, like everyone else, on that impossibly blue sea surrounding us and the white sand meeting it, but the monkey had brought my attention to the nature all around. In the hotels grounds, all kinds of bright and unfamiliar plants and flowers wound around the paths from the Oasis spa to the restaurant and our private villa home on the beach.     At sunrise, the …

The Foraging Flâneur – The Charm of a Giraffe Named Oscar

First published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog.   There was talk of a tall, handsome man about town roaming the wilderness of Epako Safari Lodge in Omaruru, Namibia, where we found ourselves one April afternoon. The man went by the name of Oscar. Oscar Wilde in the wild. Yet, he was in fact not a man, but a giraffe, and not a he, but a she. Oscar’s name was given to her more in the way of Johnny Cash’s song, “A Boy Named Sue”, than any traditional gender-appropriate naming strategy. And in case we were in any doubt, there was proof. When we arrived at the lodge, Oscar had just given birth. For the second time. Where her infant was we did not know.     Just as she was eluding my gaze so was she hiding her new-born in a secret location out in the 11,000 hectare private reserve at Epako, while she went about the duty of the foraging flâneur, eating furiously from every bush that passed her approval, to provide …

A Wine Gallery Gig with Arno Carstens ~ at Ellerman House

I recently covered the Arno Carstens’ wine gallery gig at Ellerman House for the launch of the hotel’s second year of Ellerman Sessions ~ for the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog published here. I wish you had seen the way he shook his legs about. I wish I had captured it to show you but I couldn’t look away. No one could. No one did. You’d have seen them, those legs, if you were there with us, up close to the stage, with the wine gallery at Ellerman House behind and below us, a few intimate rows of chairs between us. Arno Carstens and his band: front and centre. You’d have seen that crazed Elvis leg shaking that powered the night in short bursts with unexpected energy – between the trumpet, guitar, drums, and that iconic voice once belonging to the South African cult rock band, The Springbok Nude Girls. While you were sleeping I had a vision That gently took the pain away Am I still dreaming I search for meaning You turn my …

Your Helicopter Has Arrived, Ma’am, Sir…

As published on the Relais & Châteaux Africa blog. Three Ultimate Helicopter Rides In even the small events of our lives, the fleeting everyday moments, we are capable of feeling great waves of inspiration, excitement and love. They’re not to be discounted, the simple things. But let’s not deny the overwhelming thrill of the big and grand displays and adventures too. We can find ourselves overwhelmed by the gentle touch of a child’s hand or the silence of wide open African plains.  But in taking daring leaps – into or out of a plane, into wild Cape seas or a boat through the lower Zambezi rapids – there is a deep exhilaration and sense of pride that takes over us. The kind you might imagine a swashbuckler like Don Diego de la Vega to feel, with his sombrero cordobés, as he swipes a stolen locket from a thief to return to his damsel. Or English archaeologist, Lara Croft as she rope-swings into ancient tombs and ruins around the world.   “A famous explorer once said …