In the past year over 300 billion emails were written, more than 19 billion text messages were sent and the average person said 2256 words to 7.4 other individuals every day. All this adding to the giant mosaic of relationships and connections.
As this year comes to an end I think of the interactions I’ve had with people while travelling and those who touched me in some profound way. Sebastian, the head barman at Khaya Ndlovo Manor House, is one such individual I would like to remember. Especially now, on the second last day of a whirlwind year.
I drive through Hoedspruit in the direction of Khaya Ndlovu, nestled in the thickets of the Blue Canyon Conservancy. The heat subsides with the slowly approaching sunset and a thin layer of clouds cover the horison, masking the sun. I welcome the cool air, rolling down my window and breathing in deep breaths of African air. Within minutes after entering the conservancy I park my vehicle and stand before the Manor House boasting with impressively beautiful colonial style gardens as well as a veranda and infinity pool with unsurpassed views that opens to a beautiful vista of the Drakensberg mountains and surrounding bushveld. Almost immediately a whole group of staff, lead by a tall Zimbabwean man Sebastian, surround me, ready to escort me to my room and settle me in for what already looks to be a tranquil holiday with the promise of relaxation in the South African bush.
It is a beautiful space. The interior is gracefully designed. Aged memorabilia from across the globe and sterling silver are placed in all the different corners of this glamorous homestead. The open plan bar area and dining space has a very relaxing atmosphere and wonderful charm. Guests all dining together makes for a very sociable experience. The space boasts with a very charming pizza oven and the chef’s, Princess and Suzanne, do a really good job that show high quality and speaks of craftsmanship.
That evening, after returning from safari, I sit down on the veranda to watch the sun set between a now withering layer of clouds – the Drakensberg mountains clearly visible in the distance. Sebastian hands me a cocktail.
“Thank you. It was a wonderful day.” I say.
“It was,” he affirms smiling, “and tomorrow is going to be even better.”
I startle at his answer and remember listening to NPR in California earlier the year, totally homesick, hearing the DJ saying: “It is going to be a great day Los Angeles!” I could not help but think that this American did not know what she were talking about. I mean, I could very possibly be the worst day in someone’s life. (You know how people say they could get hit by a bus tomorrow? I know, that seems pretty far fetched, but only until you have a friend who gets hit by a bus.)
The point is, you never know what kind of day is coming. What kind of year is coming.
“And how are you so certain tomorrow is going to be even better?” I guide my thoughts back home to the less pessimistic present.
“I decide it.” He is still smiling.
“Just like that?” I am struggling to fathom this man’s positivity.
“Just like that.”
In some ways my conversation with Sebastian could be seen as a superfluous chat over a cocktail, or even a barman making small-talk, but it has stayed with me for months. Above all the other wonderful aspects at the Manor House his outlook was so profound I can imagine remembering it forever.
Whenever we think we know the future, even for a second, it changes. Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely, and we are left only with the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it, to stand there trembling, not moving, assuming the worst that can happen, or we step forward, into the unknown, and assume it will be brilliant.
Dear reader, thank you so much for sharing in the journey with us! On behalf of all the contributors at The Good Holiday, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2015.
Words and Pictures: Daréll Lourens
PS: Here are a few reasons why I liked visiting Khaya Ndlovu.
1. The spa is situated under a thatched roof in the lower garden and overlooks a watering hole where, if you are lucky, you can have amazing big 5 sightings while being pampered. Victory, the resident therapist is highly qualified and well travelled, making her treatments a great fusion of eastern, western and African techniques. The spa makes use of Thera Naka products, African essential oils, quality I can now vouch for.
2. Khaya Ndlovu is also the home of Rhino Revolution and if you are interested to learn more about de-boring (even if it comes with a great deal of debate, as I wrote about before), you can visit them and meet Chris Martin to learn more in person.
3. A highlight on the menu is definitely the home made berry ice cream. Ask the highly competent chefs to prepare this for you.
4. Here, service is king. It is a great destination for a honeymoon or even a small wedding.
5. I can vouch for the pool and breakfast after a morning game drive. Without hesitation.