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.karkloofsafarivillas.com