Have you ever felt truly isolated? Not in terms of a lack of unity with your next guy (or woman), but of pure and lovely freedom? Nothing around you, nothing encumbering you, what appears to be the entire globe at your feet, nothing obstructing your vision in every direction, and not a soul in sight to ruin the wonderful moment unfolding before you?
It is for sure a rarity. That type of boundless space and the exquisite sense of being the only human on planet, even if you know deep down that it’s not true, provides a kind of bliss that I don’t frequently experience.
It took my breath away as I stood in the heart of the rocky maze on the Kingwill Farm known as ‘The Rest’ near Nieu Bethesda in South Africa’s Karoo. Clouds soon swirled about the mountain peaks above me, culminating in a light desert rain just as I reached the maze’s finish. That was the type of coincidence that I believe is referred to as “fate.”
Paula had said that if I went into the maze with a query, I could find an answer. I was dubious. I went there with no expectations. I chose to make it contemplative, but even that proved challenging. I eventually began to glance around and stroll.
It was so organically gorgeous that it helped me relax. Strange feelings welled up inside me around halfway through that I hadn’t anticipated. I gazed up at the mountain in front of me and felt as if I had an answer, even though I didn’t know what the question was: I simply want to make something beautiful. I simply want to help rather than cause damage. My ambition is to live simply and completely.
I couldn’t believe it when she said it.
Locals refer to the Karoo as the African bush, but I consider it a desert.
The issue with deserts is that most people dismiss them as having little to offer.
What, no trees? Is there no beach? There will be no little cocktails blended with paper umbrellas!? How does a trip go?
That’s why it’s such a well guarded secret. That is why you will not see tanned visitors polluting your environment. If you can stand it, it’s the finest type of vacation there is: total desolation.
…and I believe you can.
As her parents were too elderly to herd the cows (happy free range cows!) that make up the family business, Paula and her husband, E, took over the farm as it was about to be sold.
After abandoning the city life of Cape Town, where she worked as a drama therapist and her husband worked in film, they began on a gigantic task: learning to handle animals with no schooling or agricultural skills. She had left the farm when she was young to attend school, so she did not grow up with a liking for farming.
How was it at the start?
Paula describes it as “climbing a vertical rock wall without a safety belt.”
By the way, who is one of the few persons in the world who can say they survived a black mamba snake bite?
She’s basically a badass. When you visit him, ask him to tell you the tale.
I was a little concerned when I came because I was there to contribute as well as enjoy the farm. I’d gotten an email the day before asking if I wanted to work on a cattle ranch. Walk.
You actually expect a Los Angeleno to herd cattle? Well, all right! I’d say we’re both in for a surprise!
” Is it difficult?” I enquired loudly.
“How’s your common sense?” Paula inquired. “It will be easier than you think if you simply use common sense.”
I told him that I’d like to think I have a lot of common sense, but just looking at the scars on my legs shows how clumsy I am. I believe they say common wisdom is rare for a reason.
But, it turns out that herding cattle is very enjoyable. We crawled and tumbled beneath electric fences, leaped over streams, and tiptoed through marshes while holding sticks in each hand to simulate a moving fence. I was surprised that the cows were clinging to it, and every time one of them glanced at me suspiciously, as I came closer, it headed exactly in the direction I desired.
My short stay at the farm may easily have grown into many weeks. Being away from it all and unplugging has allowed me to reconnect with my purpose and re-evaluate what is essential to me. I had the time, space, and solitude to consider it.
It’s crucial to do it every now and again. Don’t you think so?
Will you see the Karoo if you visit South Africa, even if you are only passing through? The Rainbow Country features mountains, beaches, lions, and zebras, but a girl who has toured the world says, “Few things in life have moved me as profoundly as the Karoo.”
I wish I could express the butterflies in my stomach, the overpowering sensation of tranquilly, the instantaneous alignment and organisation of previously wild things in my head, and the peace of mind with which I emerged better than I ever did. I am currently.
All I can say is that it’s the genuine thing.
Do it yourself:
- Traveling by car as part of a road trip. It is nearly impossible (or at least extremely inconvenient) to get there any other way. Nieu Bethesda is the closest town to The Rest.
- Check out some of Paula’s farm’s seminars. I really made her website for her because I wanted to contribute in some way to her experience in South Africa, which I believed The Rest had greatly aided. (Please let me know if you enjoy it!)
- After leaving the farm, go exploring around the surrounding region. Walk through Graaff-Reinet to see the huge flag (more on it in the upcoming article!) Stay at Buiten Verwagten Guesthouse in GR and eat at Pioneers Restaurant for Springbok and Ostrich Carpaccio.