Sunday 18 April 2021
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The road less travelled

img_20161008_153223 img_20161008_174427 Nikhita Winklerimg_20161008_155813

Flat lands of desert sand greet us at the start of our journey as we depart the coast towards the city. There seems to be an unusual amount of traffic on this road, a road I am travelling for the first time. We are not long on the road when suddenly all traffic had disappeared, as if to give us our privacy to enjoy the silence and calmness of the desert.

The mountains are small in the distance; one cannot even anticipate what lies ahead. I saw the first solitary mountain and wanted to stop, but Tau, having taken this road many times before, continues driving in excitement to introduce me to the land of contrast.

While others might have found the long, open, flat stretch of land boring, we saw all kinds of amazing things as we were diving deeper into the wisdom of nature.

Where there were abrupt families of trees running along invisible borders in the middle of the desert, Tau taught me of dried up rivers leaving a harsh environment for these trees to survive. They are still standing tall in the dry soil, providing shelter for the Sparrow Weavers.

The contrast began; desert sand changing into the dry grasslands – still as beautiful as any place I have seen around the world. With the grasslands come more life and so emerge the animals, the first being an Ostrich which I spotted in the distance. We saw herds of Springbok, Oryx standing proud against the backdrop of the mountains, more wildlife of which the names have escaped my disappointing memory. It was an exciting mission to spot them as they camouflaged in the browns and greys of the grasslands.

Ahead of us I anticipated climbing the mountains. They continued growing as we travelled further East. At the base of the highlands a whole new adventure began as we approached infrequent patches of red sand, rock and wavy patterned mountains.

There is so much detail everywhere, from patterns, color to textures and character that revealed ancient stories. Too much to capture in just one journey. I was paying attention to it all and if at any moment I diverted my eyes to look at my phone, Tau would shout in excitement, “Look!” If for a second you took your eyes off the road, you would miss a thousand experiences, lessons and surprises.

We reached a white bridge in a valley and took a breather, Tau screaming into the vastness of the welcoming space enclosed by large mountains. At first I was hesitant, then I let it out and felt as if mother nature absorbed my pain and filled me with peace. As we continued climbing we saw the treasures of others who have travelled this road – stones stacked on top of each other, like towers, the kind you see in meditation pictures.

Every now and then we allow ourselves to stop and look back at the road we have travelled. You wouldn’t see the climb if you don’t look back and reflect.
As the journey continues uphill, so much ancient wisdom is revealed. We pass by the Kingdom of Wealth – silver and bronze branched trees displaying the richness of the mountains.

The sun is preparing to set on the West so its light hits only a few trees, an irresistible performance by nature. Some of these trees will teach you to never give up, as they grow strong out of the most impossible places. Others will teach you true healing if you were with an expert on medicinal plants.

Occasionally I had to jump out of the car to capture what I had no words for. We reached the crest in time to enjoy the sunset and by the time it was dark we were nearly home.

Photos by Nikhita Winkler

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