What is paradise?
What do you consider to be paradise?
Growing up in South Africa, a country well-known for its natural beauty, a lot of people would say that this is paradise. I have to agree, aspects of the country can be considered to be that of paradise. I have mentioned the Drakensberg in a previous post and it is my favourite place in South Africa.
The Drakensberg is a mountain range that runs parallel with South Africa’s east coast, forming the border between KwaZulu Natal and Lesotho. I found a website that has a great description of the mountains and local area called Eish SA. I always found being in the Berg to be a magical time. It feels like I have been swept into an alternative universe where everything works at its own pace. Going on a hike or horseback riding near the Lesotho border, you are likely to come across some Basotho people of Lesotho. The rural Basotho’s live simple lives and often make the journey from Lesotho over the Berg and into Natal to sell, barter and buy essentials. We rode behind a pair of them once. They ambled casually alongside their donkeys, who were laden with a variety of goods that I presume had been purchased from locals near the border. I marvelled at the way they were dressed. Although it was a fairly hot day, they were dressed traditionally, including thick blankets that were wrapped tightly around them. On their feet: simple, hand crafted leather sandals. Obviously the blankets were required for the upper parts of the Berg crossing as the weather on mountain tops can be very unpredictable. It can go from sunny and warm to blustery, stormy weather (often with hail) in a matter of minutes.
I love that the weather of the place can be so volatile, forever changing. It’s why the Berg is the place I go to when I am struggling to write. No, I can no longer physically go to the Berg as I live in England now but I have those memories and all I have to do is close my eyes and those images of the place I love are so clear in my mind it’s as if I have never left there.
I can wish it to be a warm summer’s day and I am resting on a rock after a casual hike up a hill. The sun beats down on my face as i squat on the rock, absorbing the view of the green hills that surround me down to the valley below and the meandering river, forming pools of cool, refreshing water.
In an instant, I find myself bobbing up and down in one of those pools. The water is deep enough to cool me to my shoulders and clear enough that I can see every pebble quivering around the bed, a gentle current flowing through my opened fingers. The nature in these parts is untouched and undamaged and I am careful to leave it that way. After I am sufficiently cooled off, I fill my bottle with some of the fresh mountain water (and I can because I know it is clean, pure, mountain water) and continue on my way.
Up the next foothill and I can feel the breeze pick up. I can smell the damp in the air, mixing in with the overwhelming scent of pine. I continue on the path but my pace is quickened. I know a storm is on its way. By the time I reach the other side of the hill, the clear sunny day has turned dark and ominous. Enormous black clouds roll up and lick the tip of the mountains with their white and yellow forked tongues. Their voice rings clear as the roar warns me to escape to the warmth and safety inside my hut. I make it just as the first of the drops plop heavily onto the tinned roof.
Within seconds the heavens erupt in a great tirade of giant raindrops and solid white hail stones. The noise on the tin roof is so loud I cannot hear myself think. I sit in absolute awe of its mighty force. Through the rain splattered glass window, I stare at the magnificent show of fire and ice and warm myself in front of the wood – burning fire, glass of wine in hand.
Paradise, of course, is different for us all. In a previous post I mentioned that I love bubble baths. This, too is paradise for me. It’s a place where I can escape to.
So do you have a favourite place you can go to when you need inspiration, to lift you when you’re feeling down? What or where is your paradise?
Copyright © 030712 by Karen Payze