Yesterday we drove in the late afternoon into Himeville, through a landscape of rolling purple hills and blazing yellow Autumn trees. The canopy tour was behind us: we had buzzed on a zip-line through a high forest past waterfalls and monarch butterflies and ironwood trees, with the whole of the neatly pollarded treelands spread beneath us.
In Himeville, after supper and ensconced in the lounge of the old hotel, under wooden beams and around a fireplace, with all 16 travellers spread out on the sofas with their journals, it was time to reflect on the week so far.
Some idiosyncratic observations:
- Every hotel has a cat and this cat has waited all its life to meet Amy. Once scooped up into her arms this cat looks dreamily into her eyes and probably wonders why she took so long to come.
- Gabriele has an arcane word or wonderful phrase for every occasion. Examples: ‘carunculated, the waterfall of sunlight, yowser, in my mind it’s brilliant even though I haven’t seen it yet’.
- The tour could not function without Carly, our go-to techno-genius who also obligingly whips up a cup of coffee with hot milk when asked.
- Mashalin has been hiding his writing skills under a bushel and these are now blooming and unfurling, much to the approval of the group.
- Nicola (called ‘the dumb broad’ by her best friend) sings a gorgeous version of Summertime, my favourite song.
- Kyle rides zip-lines with casual aplomb, and wears an array of t-shirts with cryptic messages on them.
- Robin is the first person in the history of the Karkloof Canopy Tour to orate the entire ‘Once more into the breach’ speech from Henry V while hurtling down through the trees.
- With very little encouragement Nabila will dance the tango and the boogie around the dinner table.
- With a bit more encouragement so will Gemma, who also transforms a plonky piano with missing keys into an instrument of magic.
- Diyanka, like Ms Jones, has a healthy scorn for the idea of hurtling through the air on a flimsy rope or for the idea that one has to face death to truly live; nevertheless, she is able to master these perfectly normal fears.
- (1) Jenna sings high pitched songs with great gusto when she is happy. Or sad. Or excited. Or calm.
- (2) Lizane (call me Lizzy) sings high pitched songs with great gusto when she is happy. Or sad. Or excited. Or calm.
- For some reason and to her great bemusement every Indian policeman in KZN seems attracted to Shakira and they keep trying to chat her up or offer her chocolate bars (don’t worry, parents, we’re keeping a close eye)
- Keeley (called ‘the stick-bearing mountain goat’ by her best friend) is a delightfully skittish person who bears the brunt of friends who constantly leap out from behind trees and out of dark corners; she’s also a real trooper and life force of the group.
- Catherine and Shannon are one person with two faces. They laugh a lot, sing a lot, and, when photographed, are captured in hilarious poses. Such energy. Sigh. See gallery later.