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…

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