Wednesday, 2 March 2016

RETREATS – the Baviaanskloof – Dianne Hofmeyr



A retreat can be a chance to get away and write undisturbed. But sometimes a retreat can be a place not to write – to just be.

Yesterday I came back from a valley that holds evidence of the footprints of human history spanning over a million years. A place too big, too silent and too majestic to describe, where words fail and cameras are too inadequate to capture the magnitude, where roads wind high above vertiginous cliffs and plunge down to rivers and can only be traversed in a 4x4 and empty houses and rusting cars are evidence to the remoteness.
  



The narrow valley between the rocks of the Baviaanskloof (Gorge of the Baboons) is a World Heritage Site and one of the richest plant regions in the world where almost 70% of the species are endemic, where three of the planet's 34 plant “hotspots” exist, where I found minute wild lobelia creeping out from under rocks and the smallest geranium ever and where hot bread can be bought from a lonely house, a labyrinth can be walked in a remote valley, where goats roam freely and people still use donkey carts and mobile phones and the Internet don’t reach.

The wilds folds of red rock, tumbled stones and horizons outlined with aloe, cactus and agave plants could be the setting for a Clint Eastwood movie or something from a Cormac McCarthy novel whose words from Blood Meridian seem to capture what I can’t…

‘They set forth in a crimson dawn where sky and dawn closed in a razorous plane. Out there dark little archipelagos of cloud and the vast world of sand and scrub shearing upward into the shoreless void…
They rode through the particoloured stone upthrust upward in ragged kerfs and shelves of traprock reared in faults and anticlines curved back upon themselves and broken off like stumps of great stone treeboles and stones the lightning had clove open, seeps exploding in steam in some old storm. They rode past trapdykes of brown rock running down the narrow chines of the ridges and onto the plains like the ruins of old walls, such auguries everywhere of the hand of man before man was or any living thing.’











Then I came home to hear Leonardo di Caprio’s parting words in his acceptance speech for his Oscar in The Revenant 'Let’s not take this planet for granted.' 

www.diannehofmeyr.com

3 comments:

Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely.

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this, Dianne!

Natasha Mostert said...

Wonderful words, wonderful pictures. And I love the Blood Meridian quote.