The peace of Molema
About 15 km from the border post we got a flat tyre! It was a real test of our physical strength as Sarie and I unpacked the car, took out the spare wheel, swapped the wheels and put everything back. I’d only packed one spare – if we got another flat we’d be up a metaphorical creek without a paddle… I had to make a quick decision: Either drive all the way back to South Africa to have the tyre fixed, or retrace our route for 30 km and ask for help at Limpopo River Lodge. We decided on the latter and a friendly man called Alan Jordaan at the lodge helped us to plug the hole. I don’t know whether it’s because we were all women (or because some of us were pensioners), but we each got a mug of coffee thrown into the deal!
Our destination was Molema Bush Camp, about 30 km north-east of the Platjan Border Post. The camp has cottages on the banks of the Limpopo River, under large nyala trees. It’s a community project and all the proceeds from tourism go towards three local villages. Molema is an acronym of the names of those villages: Mothlabaneng, Leroo La Tau and Mathathane.
It took us a while that first evening to get used to the inky darkness. Without electricity, we were out of our comfort zone. We couldn’t turn on a heater – and it was July and quite chilly.
Thus, close to nature, we came to realise that you don’t always have to control and regulate everything. Lilian Maripane lit gas lamps for us and Jerry Sasebola made a big fire. The stars hung low in the sky and the night sounds were beyond words.
The morning sun chased us out of bed early. We made coffee and sat on the river bank with our mugs, still in our pyjamas. We did this every morning. Sometimes we talked; sometimes we just sat, each with her own thoughts.
It was liberating to get by with so little. We couldn’t phone home because there was no cellphone reception. We couldn’t use hairdryers. We didn’t watch TV or read a newspaper. I experienced a rare sense of peace and I think my sisters did, too.
Time stood still. We could walk along the river if we wanted to, as far as we wished. We could sit under the trees and watch birds and squirrels. We could watch elephants crossing the river and herds of impala coming to drink. We were in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.
We booked a game drive with a guide called KB Manyatsa, who had grown up in the area. He showed us a hyena den and we were amazed when Queen, the mother of four pups, passed by so close to us.
We drove to Solomon’s Wall, a rock formation on the ephemeral Motloutse River. We saw a crocodile in the shallows and watched lions in the distance through binoculars. Nearby, baboons made a ruckus while they dug in the riverbed for water.
During those four days in the Tuli Block, we saw few other tourists.
Having been so close to nature, we returned from the trip richer in experience. We’d realised that possessions and luxuries could be a burden, and how liberating it was to cope without them. We’d also realised that any dream can come true if you plan it well, and that you should never let your age or gender stand in the way of achieving your goals.
The homecoming also made us grateful. The camaraderie had brought us closer. And when you’re back in your familiar environment, you have a new appreciation for abundance and a better understanding of scarcity.
Above all, we realised there is no place in the world like Africa. We live on a beautiful continent.
The ice had been broken. A holiday in the Tuli has now become a tradition for us four sisters. Sarie, Anna, Petra and I have been back three times. And each time we’ve had to fix a flat tyre! It’s no big deal. We’re on first-name terms with Alan…