“So where are you from?”
The question I always found so difficult to answer. The shortest answer I have rolls like a mini travel epilogue. Born in the heat of the Northern Cape, a childhood in the dust of Botswana, insolent puberty in a slushy Toronto, adolescent improvement in Zimbabwe’s perfect nature reserves, a personality search for 5 years at boarding school in Pretoria, drinking lessons at university in the Eastern Cape and then back to Pretoria for 10 weary working years.
So then you are from Pretoria?”
“Uh no.” Please no.
The truth in fact, is that there is a little place in South Africa sliced directly from heaven’s cake of perfect. It is here that my heart has always lived, and every time we left I cried. Every December, for 32 odd years, we packed more than we needed into a station wagon, drove 14 hours and waited for that sign to peek around the corner. Nature’s Valley.
Hiding in a valley that hugs the sea, this place is where I now call home. Last year, I packed up my fading city smile and came to where I left my grinning soul. My alarm clock now is a chorister robin-chat who sings me his multitude of tunes from somewhere in the forest outside my window. My treadmill and gym is the three kilometre silky beach that stretches behind steep vegetated dunes. My pool, the glassy lagoon, changes shape every day as the persuasive tides flow in and out. My office has a view over the forest, and lunchtime entertainment is the cape white eyes splashing about in the bird bath. A spirited comedy of crazy little water mad birds.
On the weekend, instead of wandering through busy shopping malls, we clamber over rocky ledges to pebbled beaches and throw stones for what seems like hours. Hikes through the flowering fynbos and early morning walks, end with thrilling plunges off small cliffs into aquamarine gulleys.
My air is clean and my skin is often salty. My hair has gone from sleek and silky to wild and curly, my highlights are improved by the sun. When luck is on our side, we catch our supper and sit out under the stars grilling our fish over glowing coals.
My life moves at a different pace here and stopping to wait for cows to cross the road, on my way into town, always makes me smile.
Small towns are warm places, Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay (town), are no different. You find friends wherever you go and people are interested in who you are not what you have. You feel at home every time you see a familiar face; in essence this is all day long.
I always felt that where you were from defined who you were, when in actual fact it is where you are going. Where you are going is where your heart takes you. Where your heart takes you is where you feel happiest, be it a hundred different places or one very special place. Knowing this, I would now have a different answer.
“Where are you from?”
“I’ll tell you when I get there.”