Time flies in africa

I often find myself heading towards the water hole, a few miles walk from the farm. This natural sinkhole, which extends nearly 300 meters deep of pure freshwater, is the product of thousands of years of erosion caused by slightly acidic water eating away at the earth below. It is the only spot on the 10,000 acre farm where water occurs naturally on the surface, without the need for a well. But it is not the water that draws me, rather the rock walls surrounding the pool that have been carved by years of erosion. It is a unique spot on the farm, much like an oasis in the desert, with 100 foot cliff walls surrounding the deep water below. There is a way down, of course, as long as one is willing to get their hands dirty – something I’ve never really had a problem with. I come here to feel a sense of peace, to feel welcome in a familiar surrounding. When I come to this crater, this rock paradise in the midst of the barren desert, I am comfortable and relaxed -- almost like being somewhere I belong. In many ways, it makes me feel like I’m home again. To climb, to explore, and to run around these rocks as if I’m running around the Flatirons in my own back yard, it is a sensation that I can only get around the cliffs by the water hole. And just when you would think that nothing could survive in the small, acidic pond in the middle of the desert, it is in fact beaming with life. There is a layer of algae that covers the surface, and underneath live an abundance of frogs. Birds fly from across the farm to drink, and several species of rodents live in the surrounding rocks – some that resemble marmots back home (I believe they are Rock Hyrax’s). And I have also noticed that every day, for about 10 minutes when the angle of the sun is just perfect, a spectacular beam of light shines through a tiny hole above one of the rocks and illuminates the entire cave below. It's an amazing but short lived sight to capture.
The rest of the land is striking in its beauty – the long, golden strands of grass sway generously in the breeze, the acacia bushes spread extensively amongst the rolling hills, the rare tree that stands lonely and tall in the harsh dry desert. When the sun is low, both the sky and the earth light up in color. The plains burn a fiery gold as the rays of sun glide through each blade of grass. The sky turns bright red, the mighty sun glowing with its first or last breath of the day. Just before sunset the wildebeest run in circles, stirring up the dust below their hooves into a majestic cloud that shimmers in the fading light of day. Almost like ghosts, the wildebeest slowly disappear into their cloud of dust, until finally the sun has gone and the night settles in, and only the hoof prints of hundreds of animals remain. By morning, the winds will have swept dust clean, leaving a blanket of untouched sand across the savannah as if every new print is the first of its kind.
Once the sun inches beyond the horizon, the sky remains bright and lively, but in a much different way. Out here on the farm, you can see the stars forever. The nearest town being over 100 miles away, there are no lights to distract from the beauty of the night’s sky. There is a mesmerizing cloud that shines bright, almost like a blanket of shimmering dust, or rather diamonds – the Milky Way is clearly visible and quite breathtaking when it can be seen so clearly.
Africa is a place of great beauty – one could spend a lifetime here and never manage to take it all in. The people here are wonderful as well. There are about 10 farm workers, all of whom live behind the main house. None speak English, and only a few can murmur a few words. The most widely spoken language in this region is Afrikaans, and a few can understand Zulu. But in the three weeks I have spent here, I have tried to get to know each person at the farm, at least to some extent. It can be quite difficult at times, with them rambling in Afrikaans and me trying to interpret what is being told to me, but we are often able to get the point across after using a wide range of body motions combined with simple words. I’m sure it would be entertaining to watch from an outsiders perspective… There are also about 15 kids on the farm ranging from one to ten years old, all very cute but also unable to speak English. I don’t think they quite comprehend that I cannot understand what they are saying to me because no matter how many times they ask something of me only to get a questioning stare in response… they continue to speak to me in Afrikaans as if I am a native. At that age though, they are impossible to disappoint, so it doesn’t necessarily matter what they ask of me as long as afterwards I point towards the swing-set or the soccer ball and ask them to play. They are also fascinated by my camera and love having their pictures taken. Once I take a photo, they all run towards me and everybody huddles around the screen trying to get a peek. Just when you thought it was hard enough for one person to see from those tiny camera screens, ten children butt heads and mash together to look at a photo that I have taken. That in itself is quite entertaining, so I rarely walk out to their homes without my camera.
As I get more acquainted with the staff here, they let me into their lives a little more day by day. It was only just recently that I began playing with their children, and yesterday was the first day that one of the maids showed me inside her own home. They are all very kind and welcoming people, and although racism still runs deep in South African culture, I often find myself spending more time in their area of the farm rather than that of the white owner. Such is life though, and South Africa still has a long way to go in gaining equality for all its people, but I try to keep an open mind and take whatever is being said to me with a grain of salt – especially when I hear the whites talking about the blacks in SA.
Anyways, the sun is going down, I’d better get out to the field and enjoy myself!

The kidos around the farm

The cliff walls surounding the sinkhole

Wildebeest - Shadows in the dust - Sunrise

Early morning plains

A frog in the algae