Further notes from South Africa: Wildlife and quiet times in the Eastern Cape

I have been in South Africa for just over a week now. It’s been an amazing opportunity to meet people and observe the country on its own terms. The closest I have had to a typical tourist experience has been our day trip to Addo Elephant Park. Nothing quite prepares you, on your first visit, for the sight of these huge majestic beasts looming ahead on the road, appearing out of the bushes. And there is so much more to see than elephants. We were stoked to encounter two young rooikatte along the roadside. These lynx are a rare sight at the best of times and we were able to sit and watch them for 15 minutes.

Rooikat
Rooikat
Addo Elephant Park
Elephant  – Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

The value of taking time to relax, soak in the countryside, meet fascinating individuals and spend quality time with my friend has been exactly the medicine I needed. In a few days I will make my way back to Cape Town for the much more urban, cosmopolitan side of my stay which will, in its way, be quiet and introspective. Cities can be good for being alone too.

Old sheep
Old sheep
Eastern Cape farm garden
Eastern Cape farm garden

My endeavour to gather more South African literature to bring home is going well. So far I have collected a stack of second hand books from a little shop in East London here in the Eastern Cape and have another stack waiting for me back in Cape Town. I have been digging through my friend’s bookcase for titles to look for here or back home and last night I was thrilled when my favourite author, Damon Galgut, won the Sunday Times Literary Award for South African fiction for his novel Arctic Summer. So, a fine literary excursion to date.

South African sunset - All photos copyright JM Schreiber
South African sunset – All photos copyright JM Schreiber

Otherwise it has been a relief to step back from my normally heavy engagement with news and social media. I did read with dismay about the terrorist attacks in France and Tunisia. I was relieved that my American LGBT brothers and sisters have achieved a long overdue milestone. But I came to South Africa in large part to put as much distance between myself and my life at home as possible for a few weeks and, for now, watching waves crash on the shore or sitting on the stoep and watching the sky burst with colour in the evening or listening to Breyten Breytenbach reciting poetry in Afrikaans is therapy of the best kind.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

11 thoughts on “Further notes from South Africa: Wildlife and quiet times in the Eastern Cape”

  1. I’m so happy you have received your soul’s desire in beautiful South Africa, a real time connection with your friend, the splendor of the wild and the solace of the ocean. May you visit many more times to refresh your mind and soul. Check you china! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Delighted to hear you’re having such a great time in South Africa. It sounds just the thing – relaxing and re-energizing all at once. Beautiful pictures – the sunset is stunning.

    I really must get back to reading Galgut as it’s been quite a while!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eek, I thought I’d replied to this. Our story and your photo of the caracal is still impressing the hell out of people *airpunch* I’m so glad you made it here. The dog keeps sticking her head round the corner of your room to see if you’re there (she doesn’t usually do that).

    Liked by 1 person

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