In the previous blog, I told you the story of my visit to a farm in Kimberley, to go stay with a friend who'd lost her husband. My story left off where you found the two of us all packed up and ready to set off for Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, to simply afford her the chance to escape and get away from it all.
Our first stop would be in Springbok, a lovely little town, only a stone's throw away from Hondeklipbaai itself. As L wanted to take the Wildeperdepas (Wild Horse Pass) to Hondeklipbaai (Hondeklip Bay), we decided to book into a guesthouse in Springbok so we could take the pass in daylight, fresh from a good night's sleep. Just as well we did so. As it turns out, the pass had washed away in a number of places and had really become almost unassailable. However, we knew nothing of this as we set off and had a very interesting driving experience as a result.
There were numerous times when we asked each other whether it wouldn't be more prudent to simply turn back, rather than to push forward. With both of us being rather adventurous in nature however, we balked at the idea of turning back, and forward it was! Finally we reached a point where turning back ceased to be an option as turning the vehicle around, or even reversing, became more dangerous than simply pushing on. Looking back over my photos, I realize that I did not take any photos of these horrendous spots on the road (or I should say non-road). Clearly, the drive required both of us concentrating on the road and checking the road on both sides, so that the camera was put down until safer ground was reached. Now, if you are even remotely as trigger happy with a camera, as I am, you will realize that this means we were truly in dire straits.
Would I recommend taking Wildeperdepas from Springbok to Hondeklipbaai? Yes! A resounding yes! Absolutely! The views are spectacular, the rock formations breathtaking, and nature is simply amazing. You should not avoid this pass for anything in the world, if you can take it. However, do speak to the locals beforehand and try to gain some insight as to the conditions of the pass before setting off on it. We had a 2x4 and we had to switch to overdrive in a number of places.
Now, somehow I have managed to start telling my story by its tail end again! So let me step back to our stay in Springbok, before continuing on to Hondeklipbaai. We arrived as the sun was setting and a light drizzle had started to settle on the town. L was exhausted from the drive and wanted to pay attention to Janneman. I, having been cooped up in a car for most of the day (aside the interesting stops along the way - you have to stop by as many market stalls as possible!), felt the need to stretch my legs a bit and took a stroll around the block. This afforded me a beautiful view of the town, nestled in the hills of the surrounding countryside. I did not stray too far though, as the drizzle was increasing, and this was winter after all.
That night saw me having another of my many sleepless nights. This is not something I am a stranger to, but it is rather uncomfortable when you are sharing a room with someone else and you don't want to wake them with your own restlessness. Finally, I could not stand staying put any longer, and in the early morning hours, somewhere between 4 and 5, I got up, dressed myself, grabbed the camera, and set off to see if I could find the sun before it rose too high in the sky.
It was not a matter of finding the sun before it rose too high, it was impossible to find the sun at all! Being winter, the sun was late in rising, and would not allow anyone to hurry it up and take a sprint over those hills. It was tremendously dark and bitterly cold, but I was determined to find the sun and take its snapshot. I decided to while away the time in prayer. Now, this was praying with my eyes wide open as I did not wish to miss the first rays of the sun. I had a lovely time talking to God that morning, but finally the cold got the better of me and I decided to catch the sun another time. Instead of ending the prayer with the usual 'amen', I ended our conversation with the above explanation. That was when God answered.
If you are unfamiliar with God's voice, I will try to explain it as best I can. It is similar to a thought entering your mind, except that it hasn't had its origin in you. You simply know that it comes from somewhere (or more accurately, Someone) else. So it was, on this particular morning. As I was turning away to go back inside, I heard God say that He wanted to bless me. I argued that it was cold, that I appreciated the sentiment, but that I would rather go in. He responded by saying He would take care of that. At that moment, as I was standing there, heat suddenly started flooding my body and I felt as cozy as if I was in an air-conditioned room. This left me no doubt as to wanting to spend the next hour or so in God's presence. He then told me that on this morning, it was His turn to bless me with a beautiful picture and that He would do this in a spectacular way. This had the artist in me very excited!
After having taken a number of photos of the sun's reflection on the town, I distinctly felt God urging me to turn around and cross the same street again. Once I did, He told me to turn right, rather than keep on ahead. This would put me in completely new territory that I had not explored before. I followed His instructions and came to a gap in a fence, leading to something resembling a park. It was very dark on this side of the hill, and I could not make anything out clearly. Just then, I heard God telling me to stop and look up. I did so, with the camera at the ready.
At the exact moment that I looked up, the sun broke over the top of the hill, in the precise spot where my eyes were rested, and a feint whiff of mist was briefly visible as it fled before the warm rays that chased it out of its hiding place. The hill was astoundingly pretty, covered with succulants and my favorite Kokerbome. I was so in awe that I forgot to even raise the camera and the photos I took only followed a couple of minutes later.
How does one explain the actions of a loving God and the personal care He takes with an individual life, to someone who doesn't know Him in this way? I have yet to figure it out, but this is not that kind of blog. This is a traveling blog, and if this incident did not stand in the center of what followed, it would not have meaning for anyone other than myself. But this was not the end yet.
As I was praising and thanking God for the blessings He so richly bestowed on me, He told me that this was merely the beginning. He told me that He was going to take me to a place that I would enjoy staying in. He had me baffled for a moment, as I had to imagine for myself what that would be. He did not spoil the fun by telling me what it would look like. Instead, He told me what it would not be. It would not be a five-star luxury hotel, or a penthouse suite. I laughed out loud at this, for my Father knew me well. I had stayed in these before and hated every second of it. I found it boring, impersonal and with too much faffing and carrying on. I would much rather do for myself, than have hordes of people crowding my space. I also prefer nature a hundred times over opulence. If not a five-star hotel, then what would it be? I was to be pleasantly surprised.
The next thing God told me, was that I would eat fresh snoek while on this trip. I told Him I appreciated the sentiment, but that I had this one covered. If there was one thing, I would make sure to do, it would be to eat snoek while on the Cape Coast. Come what may, I was determined to have my way in this. I had underestimated Him.
We set off on our treacherous journey across Wildeperdepas, seeing some incredibly beautiful sights, before finally entering Hondeklipbaai. At first glance the town did not appear to offer much. As a matter of fact, it hardly appeared to be a town at all! We stopped in front of the Papierhuisie, where we were to stay, and it did not seem like much either. Except that when I stepped outside the car, the whole yard was covered in shells! I love eccentricity and I could immediately tell that I was going to encounter this in spades. How exciting!
If you ever have a chance of visiting Hondeklipbaai, I want to recommend staying over in the Papierhuisie. It is a lovely house to retreat to. As it was out of season, we had the place to ourselves, aside from a lady who came in to clean everyday. I am not going to say much more about the house, but will let the pictures speak for themselves. I will only say this: when traveling with a Capuchin monkey, this may not be your first choice for a stay-over. Janneman was like a toddler on steroids, except that he had the added advantage of using his hands and feet, as well as a long tail, with more dexterity than any toddler could ever muster, and he was not limited by height! We had to keep him on a very tight leash when he was not in his cage or all of that marvelous glass and crystal would have shattered all over the floor!
As Hondeklipbaai is very near Springbok (in Northern Cape distances, which differ widely from Gauteng distances), we arrived at our destination quite early in the day still. After unpacking the overloaded bakkie and resting up after the nerve-wrecking (but fun!) trip across the pass, we decided to take a leisurely stroll down to the beach front. I snapped a couple of fabulous photos and then L suggested we have some coffee at the restaurant overlooking the water. I agreed. I always agree to coffee!
We had placed our orders for coffee when L suddenly suggested we had fish and chips for lunch. I agreed. What fish was on the menu? Snoek! I had to giggle to myself. There I was, but a few hours later, eating snoek right next to the water - just as I had planned to arrange for myself, except that I didn't arrange it and it ended up costing me nothing. How can you top that?
That evening we were invited to dine with friends of L and her late husband J, who they knew through J's professional connections as game catcher. These folks happened to be on Hondeklipbaai at the time of our visit (they have more than one house), and were eager to reunite with L, as it would be the first time they would see each other after J passed away. They invited us for Karoo lamb prepare over an open fire. However, when we arrived, the husband had gone fishing and returned with fresh snoek ... and they had changed the menu. I had snoek for a second time that same day and it was delicious!
Taking this trip, may not have made the most sense financially, but I knew that I was where God needed me to be, when He needed me to be there. Was it beyond Him to bless me, while He was using me to bless someone else? No. Was it necessary for Him to do so? No, I would have done it anyway. But sometimes, God blesses us simply because He wishes to reaffirm His love for us. It also served to confirm that I was right in following my 'gut' instinct about taking the trip to Kimberley (and beyond). I did not have a clear answer about doing so, but simply did what seemed right at the time. I came away not only blessed, but with my own faith strengthened. My best of advice for your next journey? Stop by God first. The rest will sort itself out.
I want to share one more thought with you before I leave off. This takes the form of a poem I wrote many years ago. I call it Jehovah Jirah:
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