You’re either country folk, or you’re city folk, and it’s a deep-seated longing when you’re out of your element. Kurt and I are country folk, and we never get used to the close-quarter assignments of urban (or even suburban) living.
So we were really grateful, this past holiday weekend, to be invited to the family farm of our new South African friends. So much of what we’ve experienced here has been the usual tourist fare, and we were excited to just enjoy time in the country with friends.
The farm is about an hour and 45 minutes from where we live in Pretoria, just across the border into the Limpopo Province.
I don’t know what I expected from a weekend at a South African farm, but it was wonderfully similar to one of our weekend getaways in the states.
We had several braais (cookouts)…
…played in a swimming pool until we were exhausted, then sat around a fire in the evenings.
We even did a little target shooting…
and rode ATVs to get a beautiful view of the overflowing dam.
We fell in love with our friends’ South African family immediately, privately comparing siblings and quirks and campfire stories to those of our own families in America. Of all our regular tourist fare so far in South Africa, a simple, authentic outing turned out to be one of the most rewarding, because we felt like we had family again, even if only by borrowing someone else’s for a little while.
Everything was the same as it would be at home, except that the food is a bit different, and the surrounding wildlife includes deadly snakes like the Black Mamba, Mozambican Spitting Cobra, and Puff Adder. Oh, and some poisonous scorpions as well.
But we slept peacefully in the cottage next to the main house. We left the windows open and fell asleep easily to the sounds of nature around us. When we returned to Pretoria, we were barely able to sleep again, stirring at every small sound in our suburban landscape.
South Africans coexist with some of the deadliest species on earth, and before we came here, I wondered how anybody slept in a country home, knowing what might be stirring in the nearby woods. But even in South Africa, even in the countryside, you’re more likely to succumb to any number of man-made or self-made mishaps than “Death by Mamba.”
You live life, you pay attention, you know that those things want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them, and you learn… when bitten by a Black Mamba, be sure to write the words “Black Mamba” next to you, because that’s all you’ll have time for, and at least someone will know how you died.