Okovango Swamps at Sundown.
My son is on the Gap Year. A term familiar to many British graduates and something considered foreign by all who went to school in the 70’s. Back then a Gap Year in South Africa meant two – two years of Military Service. Today, having the opportunity to explore the world and stretch those fingers over the edge of the window before joining the Corporate world is wonderful, and I am rather envious of my son. Sort of.
Africa is his great love. One of the first items on his wish list, was immersing himself in a FGASA course in the heart of the Okavango. Learning to take visitors into the bush, filled with live, large and dangerous animals. I imagined that he would be learning about spoor, stars and how to tell twigs from other twigs, eat berries and braai (not going to find out what) – really challenging stuff and one day, if I ever did find myself stranded amongst some Wild Dogs, dearest would save me and lead me back to safety. How awesome for a young man, or woman to learn and live in the bush like that.
(He only told me afterwards about his close up encounter with a Male Elephant in the dead of night, and the Hippos in his campsite but MUMS DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THOSE THINGS.
I stupidly sent him text messages to say ‘Sleep tight darling’ and ‘Mum misses you’ but I ain’t ever going to outgrow that stage of being a mother now am I? Despite my trepidation, I know my son has had the best time, and now I am inspired to not only visit, but to promote and it has been through his eyes.
A Travel Consultant cannot have visited everywhere, of course, and I try to avoid the clichéd, dreadful sales people that were in my lifetime, the worst advocates of places, and in particular, hotels which they had never been too, or stayed in. Now I advocate the places that have stolen my heart, the people I relate to and want to be with again and if I had not done the specific journey, I draw on those I admire to share their stories with me and so I can believe in my story telling to those I want to visit there.
I can see how much both energy and peace filled my son’s time in the Okavango. It echoes what others say and I am ready for the sunset with the Fish Eagle and a horizon that does not rely on man to be magnificent.
Coming out of the bush, to the Karoo, another emerging pearl in South Africa. Days past, driving through it was the only objective, nothing upon nothing but scrubby sheep on scrubby lands. And trend set in. Now the Karoo is the place to go, and judging by this sunset, this landscape and how the stars meet the dust and stars enough to fill your bag of hope to the brim, this is where I want to go, want you to go. I think I am eligible for a Gap Year … please, please, asseblief!
Through the eyes …to the place.
All photographs taken by Grayson.