Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 1st July

Today we journeyed to the end of the world, or so it felt.

We are staying in a really lovely re-done farmhouse near Joubertina in the Eastern Cape. When we booked, we never really asked about distances and locations, so it was well into the evening and we were getting closer all the time when I phoned to check directions. I was told that the place is 25 kms from Joubertina.

That simple statement translated into 25kms of dirt road up and down two mountains, through valleys, along what must be precarious drops (if we could see them) and quite a narrow road – all travelled in the dark. There was not a single light to be seen, until we arrived at the owners’ house, to be greeted by torchlight and told that the house is another 2kms up the mountain.

And what a lovely place. It is almost a thing of fantasy, with a lovely welcoming stoep, complete with couches and built-in braai facility.  The house has a big living/dining room, with three bedrooms, a rather ingenious double bathroom and quite a cute scullery area opening off it. All well-appointed and beautifully kept.

This is where one goes for days at a time, hopefully having brought enough food and drink, as the journey into Joubertina to the closest shops is long, windy and rather hair-raising. There is definitely no ‘popping’ out to the shops if you forgot anything here!

Being ‘out in the sticks’ like this makes a person think about what we have in our own everyday lives and what we may well be missing. It also makes us appreciate that which we do have and look at what we may experience for just a little while. This is not ‘lifestyle turf’, this is definitely ‘get away from it all’ material. And it is so much more fun and richer for that.

There is something dramatic and exciting about arriving at a place in the dark. It adds to the adventure and means that the revelation of what the surroundings look like when we wake up tomorrow will be a lovely surprise – as will the reality of the road we traversed to get here, I fear J

Something like this is kind of like the experience of having cancer: it is simultaneously a removal from reality and a re-positioning and re-looking at reality. Cancer is not a holiday. It is a particular journey that has its own routes that must be followed. It is individual and it is inevitably threatening at times, even if only briefly.

Having made the journey, travelled the path as set by the disease/condition, you emerge the other side having had a chance to look at your own life from a different perspective while living it. You are the same, but you will also never be.

Coming to a place like this ‘at the end of the world’ may have no impact on my life, but it may also affect it, perhaps subtly, even if only to make me appreciate the usefulness of having two Spars and other shops within a 2km radius of my home!

I do think, however, that the effect will be much deeper than I may ever understand.

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