No matter their political stance, religion, social class or ethnicity, if there is one thing that all South Africans will agree on, it is that we surely live in one of the most diversely beautiful countries in the world.
Time after time this land has entranced me, thrilled me, charmed me, taken my breath away and hypnotised me with its beauty. I have been captivated by its complexities, and challenged by its rugged landscapes.
Iâ€™ve walked through vineyards, forests and rose gardens, and Iâ€™ve driven along undulating roads bordered by fields of wheat and bright yellow canola. Iâ€™ve bounded through multi-coloured carpets of wild flowers in springtime on the West Coast, and Iâ€™ve hiked mountain paths lined with proteas, ericas and indigenous bulbs.
Iâ€™ve stood silently on top of Tygerberg Hill, Lionâ€™s Head and Table Mountain, marvelling at the glory of the city stretched out before me. Iâ€™ve driven through the old Ciskei at night, stopping to hear the awesome silence and gaze at the shining mass of stars in the night-sky.
Iâ€™ve watched the sun rise over the distant Boland mountains, with their outlines crisp and purple and their tips covered in snow. Iâ€™ve watched the sun set over the ocean from Clifton 4th beach, and seen the fire-dancers turn the beach into a wonderland after dark.
Iâ€™ve thrown snowballs and made snowmen in the Ceres mountains, and Iâ€™ve had my breath whipped away jumping into the icy waters of the dark and brooding, yet oh-so-beautiful, Riviersonderend Canyon.
Iâ€™ve sailed along a rope through the forest canopy in the lush, green Karkloof in KwaZulu-Natal, and Iâ€™ve jumped from a bridge, watching the dry river-bed of the Gouritz River rush up to meet me.
Iâ€™ve tasted the sweet, delicious, fresh water of a mountain stream in the Cederberg, and the rich, heady wines of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.
I have quivered just a little whilst sitting on a quadbike, watching a female rhinoceros and her calf grazing a mere 5 metres away. I have seen cheetahs, sharks and seals, and Iâ€™ve held monkeys, fed a baby elephant and played with lion cubs.
Iâ€™ve watched the lights of Mossel Bay flicker to life as dusk descends, transforming the bay into a glittering panorama, welcoming and cosy. I have seen a herd of wildebeest silhouetted on the crest of a hill, the sun setting behind them, and Iâ€™ve watched huge flocks of guinea fowl feeding in my suburban garden each morning.
Iâ€™ve watched scores of surfers taking on the waves at Victoria Bay and East Londonâ€™s Nahoon Beach. Iâ€™ve kayaked along the Touws River in the Wilderness, and Iâ€™ve paddled quietly across the tranquil Knysna Lagoon in the late afternoon, the sound of waterfowl a perfect accompaniment to the gentle swishing of my oars.
Iâ€™ve travelled through the arid Karoo on a sweltering hot day, with only sheep and Karoobossies to break up the vast and strangely beautiful semi-desert landscape, and Iâ€™ve smelt the fresh, cool scent of Knysnaâ€™s milkwoods in the morning.
I have been on boat trips and helicopter flips, and Iâ€™ve travelled the Garden Route on a sturdy old steam train, through charming towns and across a shining lagoon.
Iâ€™ve said â€œOh wow,â€, â€œIsnâ€™t that awesome?â€, â€œLook at that!â€, and â€œI donâ€™t have words to express how beautiful that is,â€ more times than I can recall.
I have lived in this land all my life. And I have loved this land for as long. And on a perfect winterâ€™s day like today, with blue skies, wispy clouds, crisp air and a crystal-clear mountain in front of me, I have a strong feeling that this love is not unrequited.
This post is a chapter of the SA Blook: A Piece of Significance, an online book written by a diverse group of writers with strong views of our country and the reality we find ourselves living in. The other chapters in the Blook are here:
1. The new South Africa – is it real?
2. Is SA rich or poor?
3. What the world thinks of South Africa and what our global opportunities are
4. The importance of each individual’s contribution collectively
5. SA Inc and the business of doing business in SA
6. The beauty and grandeur that surrounds us
7. The importance of technology in SA’s global emergence
8. Building brand South Africa
9. Making the most of SA’s creative talents and abilities
10. Innovate for a better South Africa
11. The role of the younger generation in SA, and what we need to do to support them
12. Connecting South Africa – Communities that transcend technology
13. We are African – the role of collaboration in South Africa’s growth
Copyright Kerry-Anne Gilowey 2008. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No-derivatives 2.5 ZA licence.