Good day Michele
Details follow of a walk in Venda I’ve been trying for years to make a reality…A South African ‘Camino’ albeit in shorter form. This is the ‘inaugural’ walk. Rather short notice I know.
It would provide unparalleled exposure to African/Venda culture, walking through magnificent countryside- one of the last ‘deep’ rural, traditional areas of South Africa!
All the best,
I received this email a week ago, and as soon as I read it, felt a crushing sense of disappointment. I’ve been desperate to do this trip for a very long time. It’s at the top of my “before I go blind” bucket list.
Jeffrey Rink is a psychologist and conservationist and has been running eco-psychology retreats for over twenty years.
I attended one of these six years ago, at a time in my life that I was emotionally stretched to breaking point, following the end of a toxic relationship with my ex-wife.
The trip, which began in the Kruger park, and ended with a few days in Venda, included daily excursions and meditations in nature. In spite of the breath-taking scenery, I struggled to reconnect or to shake off my deep distress. Until we arrived in Venda. Ironically, it was here that I had visited my ex -wife’s Afrikaans, farming family. Staying in a tribal village was the polar opposite.
I was deeply affected by the warm Venda people, the fertile land with it’s mysterious forests and the sacred lake. Venda entered my system on such a deep level, that I can feel it to this day.
So when Jeffrey spoke of his dreams of organizing a walk from village to village, I made him promise to keep me informed. Which he did, But the timing sucked. It was just too soon to try and take off the time from work, I’m half way through the year with my craniosacral studies, and then there’s the small matter of my four children. Besides the insurmountable fact that I didn’t have the funds to cover such an indulgent luxury.
If, in the future, I manage to find the time and save the money for a different year, then, I might not have the required eyesight, a recent test having revealed that I only have 7%of my steadily deteriorating sight left. So it seemed I would be doomed to never experience the longed for journey.
But oh, my word, the longing I felt as I read and re-read the email, which, among the many delights in the various villages, promises “seriously good music – extraordinary music – quite unique! Tshikhona music particularly is quite surreal, hauntingly evocative, and entrancing! Musicians up to 100 strong playing flutes, and pounding huge drums!”.
The longing was compounded by photographs that Jeffrey had taken on his previous visits.
It was my mom who insisted that I go. She has sponsored my trip and insisted that her and my partner Sam will keep the home fires burning.
As luck would have it, the trip just happens to fall neatly into a week we have off between two modules of my course.
I can’t describe my gratitude. But now that my dream journey of a life time has become a reality, my excitement has an ugly visitor- panic! Can I go from chronically fatigued couch potato to hiking 15km a day in such a short space of time? Am I crazy to travel to Johannesburg alone, and then navigate rural Africa with 7% of my vision left? What if I fall into a pothole, step on a snake, slow down my fellow travellers? What will the locals make of this stranger with her long, white stick?
Whatever my fears, armed with blind courage, my cane and my notebook, I’m off to tribal Venda, where I will write and record every step of the journey.
I’m also going to try and raise awareness of the journey for Retina South Africa http://www.retinasa.org.za, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for retinal blindness.
Okay, need to go, it’s a Friday night after a long week, and I’m leaving crazy early on Sunday morning, which means that I only have one day to organise everything. Mosquito spray, sleeping bag, water bottle, hiking books…aaaargh, the panic monsters attacking me.
Will keep posting.