Saturday, February 28, 2009

The road to Tonglen

is not for the faint hearted.

This is us, stuck. Note that it is a Landrover that is stuck. Not promising. But also worse than it looks, because the road had been badly chewed up by a logging company, who will fix this section. It won't be so bad in April.

Will it?

Surely the sheer volume of rain will have abated by then. Won't it?

Haha. Actually, the problem with this road normally is not mud but rockiness. High clearance vehicle needed. The mud is unusual.

We had fun though. When the wheels started spinning we jumped out to check which bit of road was safest - and A, battling the slippery slope, slid like a heavy ton of metal towards a deep donga. And so we paused, hovering on the edge of it. And phoned ahead to the farm to Louis who had arrived in the afternoon. Louis to call Jacob in the tractor to tow us out. Then we sat and marvelled at the milky way as it slowly emerged in all its finery. And slapped at mosquitoes and made bad jokes about the slippery slope and sliding to new lows and being stuck in a rut and such. Just the kind of chitchat you make with psychologists who own landrovers and are embarrassed to have to call for help. And when help arrived, B and I had that jolt of recognition in the dark, thinking, but we've met Louis before - where, where, when?

And later, when everyone was muddy and lighting the paraffin lamps to get dinner ready, we tried to figure it out -
B: was it Cape Town? Did you ever live in Cape Town?
L: Yes, for a while
[but no, it didn't seem like it was there]
T: did you ever spend time at the retreat centre in Ixopo?
L: no, never.
B: Durban?

And in the freshness of the morning the conversation idled from wedding plans and family to conservation to art and sculpture, and I mentioned my mom's upcoming exhibition and Paul said, what's your mom's name and I told him and Louis said, Oh I have one of her paintings. Oh! He went to Kapani.(my family lodge/home village) When? For the Millennium, that fabulous crazy party - Oh Oh Oh!!! B, this is where we know Louis from, silly silly! And of course! He was there, he was staying with Janelle, he's Janelle's mate!! Ha! That bad mad crazy rainy floody muddy season when everyone seemed to be sliding towards ruin - and that bizzaaaaaarre party when you had to go dressed as something beginning with M, and mother was a malaria patient (literally - but she still went to the party) and father was a motor-cycle accident victim (literally, with real bruises in all shades of purple and green). That crazy season when everyone was fighting and B coined the phrase "come to Kapani, where the houses are closer than the spouses"

Oh I love this tiny world, and the fact that A, who owns Tonglen, seems to have a silver thread linking him and us to all sorts of spidery webnesses. And Louis is an events organiser and gifted me with heaps of excelelnt advice and ideas. And another of the Tonglen guests on the weekend (A does have fabulous friends) was also a delight to meet - a lass who shares so many of my passions and obsessions that she could have been a parallel life self. An environmental writer whose 'favourite issues' are elephants and human wildlife conflict andandand - what a delight. Its not easy finding such kindred souls in Joburg, so - yipeee!

So I'm not going to post loads of pics, as I want it to be a suprise for guests who may visit here. But they do need to be reassured that the journey is well worth it. So. This is what you wake up to. Just one of several lung-expanding views.


Yes, it is going to happen there, and I am truly mad to choose this spot. Its not geared for this kind of occasion, and just about everything needs to be brought in. But its beautiful. There you have it.

I came away with a hefty to-do list, and then suddenly it was Friday and my Monday to-dos remain undone, and now its Monday again. I'm not sure how this keeps happening. Compression of time, and lots going on. Last year I had an excessive luxury of solitary time at the laptop, ambling from blog to blog at the sedate pace of a rose sniffer. Now I check updates on my phone in queues. New teaching job, crushing amounts of life admin (the tax return still glaring at me from behind the cupboard door) and of course its that time of year when proposals need to get written, and, and and.

Off I go then, into the new week. Have a good one!


Angela said...

I loved your post, Tam, and that parallel self you found, and the rocks on your photo, and the silvery spider webs connecting all of us. Beautiful! And no need to hurry. Everything will work out fine.

Janelle said...

babe. it looks AWESOME. and that fact that you found louis as well...!? we are in email contact...we go back years and years and horses and horses...ah. its going to be absolutely stunning and perfect. i know it. dig the last pic of you. the reflection. you look like you are still little j

Reya Mellicker said...

I love the six degrees of separation, too. It shows so blatantly how interconnected we all are, some of us more closely than others, some of us weaving in and out, but we are all still part of a Big Something.

One question: how can it be fun to get stuck in the mud? I am always in awe of you and yours, how hearty you are. We Americans are total wimps. I salute you.

Miranda said...

Oh my. S'amazing.

Hey word veri is kisters!! I like that.

karen said...

what a gorgeous location, and an amazing small world experience! I'm sure it's going to be a great adventure for everybody, and a wedding to remember!

tam said...

Thanks Angela! I'm glad you think that i don't need to hurry! Actually I'm feeling calmer this week.
Janelle... such fun. Louis feels to me like he's a blood relative of yours - a brother or cuz. He's got the same wicked laugh as you.

Reya - strictly speaking, getting unstuck is the fun part. True, no-one ever says 'oh goody, we are stuck'. But like all adventures, its the afterwards that is fun. When you pat yourself on the back and say well that wasn't so bad. And it helps to get stuck with fun people who have the right attitude and don't curse and swear but just deal with the matter at hand. And - well, mud is mud, you know? There's something about the stuff.

Miranda, my kister - eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Karen - thanks. it is a magical place. somehow it feels very cleansing to be there, and the light is amazing.

Shiny said...

It looks breathtakingly beautiful. And therefore so perfect for such a lovely occassion x

Lori ann said...

Incredible. You are so lucky to have found your spot Tam, Tonglen is gorgeous. It's going to happen!!

I love the stuck story, I know just what you mean, it's the sense of adventure and all. I grew up traveling throughout Mexico and the California deserts, memories of getting stuck are always some of the best, now, traveling with my husband in developing countries(or not!)again, getting stuck has made some of our best stories and memories.And,like you,I have a photo i made of each truck in a ditch! But I will cross fingers that no one gets stuck on the way to your wedding!!
xxx lori