Diamonds in Johannesburg

(A hidden gem in the city of diamonds, Johannesburg – 04/02/2018)

Sometimes rewarding experiences and wonderful people just arrive inadvertently. And, although these occasions are rare events, they are good reminders that the universe is full of wisdom and beauty.

I bumped into Marius and Reuben’s path at Clifton beach. As they were sunbathing next to me, we politely exchanged few words. They were leaving soon and my plan was to stay at the beach reading and enjoying the quietness and the beauty of the sunset. So we agreed to meet up and have a sundowner at my beloved Manhattans.

Few hours later, we met at the bar. We had an enjoyable evening and interesting conversation. My experience with having a sabbatical time and time for myself resonated very well in them, specially in Reuben as he went through a similar experience. The process of going through a sabbatical is a complex one. There are ups and downs, things that you expect and things that you don’t, feelings of adequacy and feelings of guilt… so having the opportunity to come across with people who have done the journey is a precious gift.

Marius and Reuben had to travel back to Johannesburg the next day, as they needed to return to work: a beautiful hotel & nature resort in the outskirts of the city. Visiting Johannesburg was in my travel plan, so I agreed to meet then in few weeks, once I start my itinerant part of my journey. They invited me to visit them at the hotel, so I could also know and enjoy the environment in which they work.

Generosity is not a core value of this society. So I have to admit, that I initially took their invitation with a pinch of salt. However, when I communicated to them the dates I would be in Johannesburg, they immediately arranged my stay at their hotel: The Thaba Eco Hotel.

The Thaba Eco Hotel is surrounded by the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, and it is beautifully built in tune with the site. It features elegant suites, a swimming pool, a spa, a restaurant, cocktail bar and function and conference facilities. My time there was one of the best hotel experiences I had. Everything in the place was supreme. The concept, the layout, the decor, the site, the facilities, the nature, the restaurant, the bar… Everything was made with passion and attention to detail.

After checking myself in my own lodge, I briefly went for a walk around to make time until Marius and Reuben could meet me. The place welcomed me with an explosion of life around me: birds, insects and little animals were bursting around me. It was sunset time and the sky rewarded me with one of the most beautiful sunsets.

One hour later, Marius and Reuben greeted in one of the bars al fresco, where we had a drink. To continue the evening with an exquisite meal at the restaurant. As per our previous time in Cape Town, we had a meaningful rich and deep conversation about life and personal growth. The power and need of being present, the life shift that happens to us when we reach the second half of our lives, the spiritual awakening…. Supreme food combined with supreme wisdom. What a gift that evening was for me. It was as if the Universe was giving me a blessing for my decision on my sabbatical and Marius and Reuben the messengers.

We arranged to meet in the morning for a walk in the Klipriviersberg nature reserve. So just right before 7 am Reuben was waiting for me outside the restaurant. What came after wasn’t something I envisaged. The nature reserve was really big. Something that was created, enlarged and preserved by the vision and good work than Reuben and its team had.

We had a good 1.5h walk. During that walk, we came across numerous plants and trees (I forgot their names) and a big variety of animals, including the Gnu (or Bouwildebeeste) and zebras. We managed to get close to the Zebras. Actually it has been the closest I have been to one of them. All of that combined with a conversation where I learnt a lot about the history of South Africa, especially from the period where Afrikaans communities and English colonizers ‘collided’.

I completed my experience with a superb breakfast at the restaurant. Marius was running a staff meeting there, where employees were appraised and rewarded for their good work. Another rewarding thing, to see core values of true leadership.

After returning to my lodge, I packed my bags and met Marius and Reuben for saying goodbye. Johannesburg was my farewell to beautiful South Africa, and the universe rewarded me with a wonderful experience for it.

What an inspirational place Thaba Eco Hotel was. A beautiful gem in a city still dealing with unresolved issues arising from the end of the Apartheid in South Africa. Passion, integrity, wisdom, tenacity, knowledge and care are the values behind the creation of that place, and you can see and feel those all over the place. The values than its creators and managers show everyday in their work and lives.

If you ever travel to Johannesburg, you should really visit the place.

Thank you Marius. Thank you Reuben. For the generosity. For sharing with me such a beautiful place and such beautiful values and knowledge.