I am extremely fortunate. I have a sister who loves to explore and plan. I have my health. I live in a country with excellent running races. I live in beautiful sunny South Africa.
I used to work in a job that took me around the country but I don’t ever recall going northwards to Thabazimbi. This past weekend, sister had booked for a race in the Marakela National Park. I was a bit apprehensive because I am not fond of trail running. She said it would be on the national road in the park. I agreed to go with and I am so glad I did.
The landscape changed just after we drove through a familiar town of Bela-Bela. The bush got thicker and the mountains crept closer. We reached a dirt road and the deep red soil beckoned. We passed reserves and Debbie spotted all the wildlife lying on the ground while I spotted all the birds of prey perched on the poles. The greeness seened to vibrate with life as we turned into our farm. This area is ‘hunting land’ and I was a little squeamish until after a chat with the owner where it made sense.
Our chalet was up on a plateau on a hill with the most perfect view of the Kransberg in the distance. We had solar lights, and a ‘donkey ‘ to heat the geyser which meant that we had to light a fire. A gas fridge kept our supplies cool and lastly, the gas stove to warm up my prepared meal. ( Yes, I cooked the day before-it was full moon!) We approached the stove to make coffee when we realise we don’t have matches. Relieved, we open a cupboard and a box of ‘lion’ stared at us. Unfortunately it only contained two matches. We looked nervously at each other and Debbie says ‘pressure is on sis’. I light the stovetop and Debbie turns the gas. Damn, it blows out. Nervously I try light the oven but to no avail. I turn to Debbie with the last mili second of flame hoping she is standing by with a toothpick or something but she can’t see me because her eyes are all squished up from laughing. The flame dies, I have to pick Debbie up from the floor from the rolling and laughing on it. I channeled my Dad she says.
By now we realise our options are a long drive back to town or cold food and no coffee. I propose we go to the still- unoccupied chalet next door. Their stove had a self- igniting flint so we don’t feel bad when we took their matchbox and their candle. We open the box to find one lonely match teasing us. This has to work. It does, candle, oven and stove sorted. Eventually the farmer brought our guest ‘neighbours’ up the hill and we arranged more matches from him. Morning coffee sorted.
That night we had the most perfect full moon rise in between two mountains which didn’t translate well onto camera. We sat in the glow of the moon surrounded by night sounds of the bush, and flapping of bats and breathed in the air of nature.
The run was magnificent. Well organised, gentle weather conditions, mean, steep hills ( although I only did the gentler half marathon). Debbie finished her run with a huge smile on her face secretly glad that I had changed my plans to not run the full marathon – she knows that I would have complained!
What a magical weekend. I could write more but this is already a long one. Much like the visit to the area – it needs a repeat visit.
Have trainers- will travel.