Travel Chap­ters - - CONTENTS - ZP Dala and Z Bassa for

In this is­sue Travel Chap­ters fea­tures a visit to Kark­loof Game Re­serve and Spa in a Maserati Lev­ante mod­i­fied by Man­sory.

Out of Africa into Ital­ian class. When the wild wants to take you there.

I am get­ting too close for com­fort. Do you blame me? With this amount of power un­der­neath me, do you blame me? I just got too close. Let me take you to the place where I am now. A crowded N3 sur­rounded by the medi­ocre whis­pers of a thou­sand ir­ri­tated en­gines, ask­ing to be pushed fur­ther than that frus­trat­ing first base. And here I sit, in a white Maserati Lev­ante, my body ach­ing to push this snow-wolf past the hills and craters of av­er­age, into the realm of the im­pos­si­ble, a place where the real she-wolf that I am hunt­ing is fly­ing far ahead of me. I can still smell her per­fume on my skin. Here’s a flash­back, just for your pure en­ter­tain­ment.

Os­car Wilde once spoke about the macabre beauty of hun­gry mon­sters. And in my flash­back, I be­came one. You re­mem­ber my woman, the writer who flits into and out of my life, push­ing me into the friend zone? She’s back in my life. She came over last night, her eyes smudged with mas­cara. Her angst and tears, about some man who had treated her badly. It al­ways was around 3 a.m. that she would wan­der over to me, her char­ac­ter­is­tic black lace shawl thrown around her shoul­ders.

Cups of black cof­fee, and she looked up at me from her usual place, curled up on my sheep­skin bed-throw, the colour of clot­ted cream. Her lips, bitten in mo­ments of po­etic ru­mi­na­tion. I leaned over, she looked vul­ner­a­ble. I took in her scent. There was a he­do­nis­tic thrill that shook through me as I leaned in for a taste. And that was it.

Like a leop­ard, she sprang up, wide eyes and wild hair. She ran. She grabbed one of the sets of keys off my teak an­tique key holder I had bar­gained off an old man in Nepal.

I guess I bar­gained for ev­ery­thing in my life. My life of the hus­tle. Be­fore I could get to her, she had fled. I fright­ened her. She took the Porsche, the one I had driven her to the ocean in when she had ar­rived from New York. From my Pent­house bal­cony, I saw the Porsche dis­ap­pear along the Dur­ban Golden Mile, just as the sun came up on a sane Dur­ban Sun­day.

This time, I would fol­low her. And I knew ex­actly where she was headed. We had been talk­ing about a book she had been read­ing. “Out of Africa” by Karen Blixen, later made into a movie star­ring that classy dame, Meryl Streep. She was head­ing for the wild African bush, and I was go­ing to fol­low her.

For how long would she and I play this cat and mouse game? It needed to end. What bet­ter place for things to end and be­gin, than a lux­ury Sa­fari Re­treat in the heart of the KwaZulu Na­tal Mid­lands. The Kark­loof Sa­fari Vil­las and Spa.

At the Kark­loof Sa­fari Vil­las, Collin greets me at the tucked away re­cep­tion lodge. I don’t say much. He says “Villa six for you. She’s in Villa five.”

For a split sec­ond I suf­fer sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety when my Maserati is taken away to the park­ing area, but I re­cover quickly. She’s at the Spa. My driver Bloom takes me deeper and deeper into the wild. The Spa and the Vil­las are clos­eted away from all eyes. You wouldn’t know they were there, they just ap­pear like a mi­rage be­fore you.

My mus­cles in a knot, I want to ease all my ten­sions of the drive and this per­sonal roller coaster be­fore I meet her. My mas­sage is sub­lime, it works ev­ery knot in my body. The Spa of­fers five va­ri­eties of au­then­tic Thai mas­sages and var­i­ous other treat­ments like man­i­cures, fa­cials, and re­flex­ol­ogy. Af­ter my Thai mas­sage, I walk over to the in­door pools. She is

sit­ting there, look­ing vul­ner­a­ble. Her hair is messy and wet. She hugs her robe around her. She feigns non­cha­lance. We both agree. No words. Not now. I know she needs some space. And I need a nap af­ter the mas­sage. In a tacit agree­ment, we agree to meet at din­ner.

My Villa drips lux­ury. From the Ne­spresso cof­fee sta­tion to the warmed stone floors slathered with rugs, and a huge bed. Slat­ted wooden shut­ters keep out the light. I crave a bath. My bath­room is the size of most peo­ple’s cor­ner of­fice. I slip into a steam­ing bath of scented salts.

She is dressed for din­ner. A red cash­mere shawl she got as a gift from some ador­ing fan in Kash­mir and her sig­na­ture red lip­stick. Pol­ished and re­mote, she walks ahead of me to the din­ing ta­ble. Din­ner is a quiet af­fair. She savours a Cap­rese Salad with unc­tu­ous moz­zarella balls. I dive into grilled cala­mari. Mains for her is sole swathed in le­mon but­ter cream and again, I make no apolo­gies for be­ing a car­ni­vore in the African bush, en­joy­ing my medium rare rump steak with rel­ish. Dessert is hot ap­ple pie with silky cus­tard.

Din­ner done, we have noth­ing to do with our hands. We walk back to our vil­las. I linger for a mo­ment at her door. She looks at me say­ing things she dare not say, things like mes­sages we send and delete in the mid­dle of a night. I hang back. I’ve lost her again. I fall into a dream­less sleep, alone...

... Morn­ing and a cold shower. We meet for break­fast and speak in pleas­antries that drive me crazy. But, I don’t push too hard. The night had been hard enough for her, the rings un­der her eyes say so.

The cheer­ful Game Ranger, Bloom takes us on an im­promptu game drive be­cause we had missed the early morn­ing sched­uled one. When I see her eyes light up at the im­pala, wilde­beest, warthogs and ze­bras peace­fully walk­ing around in a safe and eco-friendly sur­round­ing, I know she is happy. She laughs with de­light at a mother and baby rhino pair that come so close to us, we feel their enor­mity dwarf all the cares we have in this world. But, the cares of the world are wait­ing for us, in all their com­pli­ca­tions.

We reach our cars. She grins at my Maserati.

“I knew you would come in this car,” she says and tosses me the keys to my Porsche she had stolen.

I toss her the keys back.

“Keep the Porsche,” I tell her. I have the Maserati.

We drive back to the world, sep­a­rately. Alone!

Spe­cial thank you to Kark­loof Game Re­serve and Spa www.kark­loof­sa­fariv­il­

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