Friday, 22 August 2008

Off to the 'Berg: Under an African Sky

There is nothing quite like an African sky at night.

I am at the Alpine Heath – a resort in the Drakensberg foothills. Around me I know there is the most beautiful scenery, but I cannot see it, as darkness has descended over the entire area like a shroud. Even the lights of the chalets around me seem strangely dulled by the thickness of the darkness – but it does enhance the stars – the Milky Way, a cloudy mass of stars in the middle of a dark sky, the Southern Cross – strangely welcoming on the southern horizon.

The trip down the motorway from Johannesburg took a little short of four hours. We stopped along the way at a services, taking photos of the dramatic sunset across the highveld plains. But then, once the sun had disappeared below the horizon, the thick darkness descended. I have not driven in such darkness for many years – not even the driving rain on the motorways of England can prepare you for the extreme dark that we drove through after sunset this evening. With just the white lights of oncoming traffic, and the red of the traffic ahead gave any indication of where the road was in the blackness ahead.

But we got here, and am now spending time settling with family, gathered in the chalet, enjoying a balmy spring evening in the highlands of the Drakensberg.

I am exhausted, tired that even my thoughts feel heavy – and yet this feels like home.

I am in the arms of Mother Africa.


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