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.

Silent Angels

(About the caring network , Cape Town – 12/12/2017)

Everyday, everywhere there are silent angels around us. Kind spirits next to us that help us to get through things. Sometimes they help you in a dramatic situation, sometimes they are to provide the back up and stabilising role that ensure certain phases or events of your life are going smoothly.

They are discreet. Sometimes so discreet that we don’t acknowledge their role and how beneficial is for us. Perhaps they are even performing that role without noticing themselves. And in the same way, we might become silent angels ourselves towards other people.

Some of them are already present in your life and their role gets activated in certain circumstances. And some of them just appear in your life at an specific moment, just to take a different path when circumstances change.

They are around us all the time, but in order to see them it is important to sync with love and kindness. The more you are able to synch with, the more you are able to receive and give. The law of attraction they say?

The cards were laid for me almost from the moment I arrived to Cape Town. The people who would be important for me, the people who would play a role during my time in Cape Town providing me with a point of anchorage, were present from the beginning. As if everything was prepared and waiting for me.

Prior my advent I worried so much trying to sort things for my stay in Cape Town… all in vain. None of the arrangements I tried to resolve, apart from my plane ticket, were resoluted by the day before my arrival. But it turned out that things magically deployed themselves, like in a domino effect, as soon as I landed in the city.

So from the initial moment I arrived to Cape Town, a group of silent angels were taking care of me. Willem (I already have written a post about him), Astrid, Lizanne, Qusai, Retha, Verushka, Jako…. each of them with a different role, but all of them a group of people creating a network or love and care around me.

Astrid and I were meant to connect. Firstly, she was in law relative of Willem. Secondly, she was an architect and good friend of a work colleague of mine (Matthew Barac). And thirdly, and most odd, turns out she was my next door neighbour when I found accommodation for the time I had to wait till I could move to Willem’s place. How odd is that?

So as a good neighbour, Astrid offered her support during my time in Cape Town. She gave me keys of her house in case I had an emergency and to cover the transitional period between places. Also, she offered her car and she provided me guidance on what type of volunteering and help I could do while in Cape Town.

Astrid was always there for me. Always happy to meet up and chat. We shared about architecture, travelling and spiritual growth.

I knew Lizanne since 2014, when she was living in London. Being the sister of my former partner is not an easy role, as it is not always easy to isolate us from the shadow of him. But we did very well. Lizanne was constantly in the background, checking up on me on regular intervals and providing support. Lizanne’s mom, Retha was also in Cape Town during the festive season, so we all spend good time together. We did excursions, we went for meals and we went for drinks. I met some of her friends. We had spiritual conversations about being present, about meditation and philosophy. Just to align with the things that were brewing inside my spirit at the moment. We created our own space.

Qusai and I meet on my fist day out. We went for a drink around the stadium area and since that moment we became friends. He introduced me to his friends, showed me places to hike, beaches around the city, restaurants and bars to go. He hosted me during few days on the transition from one accommodation and the other…. He cooked delicious meals, went to parties together and made me see me how beautiful and pleasant life can be in Cape Town.

And same as them, everyone else was playing a role in during my time in Cape Town. So despite I spent a great deal of time on my own, everything I needed was given to me from day one. Everything is present for you from the initial moment. Why worry?

I am fond of the beautiful moments I shared with all of you. At the end of the day, we are just in a universe where particles are in constant movement and collision, which is what produces interactions. Your energy is what channels your path and which particles you will find in your way. Attraction is what it makes particles collide and meet.

Hopefully we will cross paths again and we will keep sharing.

 

 

Cape Town Angels

(First steps, Cape Town – 06/12/2017)

The beginning of my trip was not easy. To the anxiety that leaving everything behind for a kind of trip I would have never imagined, there was the fact that the day before my flight to Cape Town I still didn’t know where to stay.

My plan was to stay in South Africa for two months and do some volunteering work, hoping to get accommodation in exchange for my work. But despite my research and emails to numerous organizations, nothing materialized.

As I approached every South African first line contact I had (work colleagues, my ex partner and his family, friends) with no successful result, the day before my departure I decided to reach further and approach other people I didn’t know that well but with ties with South Africa. ‘Someone might know someone’, – I thought.

Willem, who is from South Africa but lives in Switzerland, was one of these people I asked at that point. We briefly met in London when we were introduced by third people. So although I had the assurance he was a fine man, we were just social acquaintances.

Strike of luck, Willem answered me 40min I was going to board into my plane.  ‘I’m in Cape Town myself over the next days, so you can stay at mine for few days till you find your way‘ -he replied. What a relief to have a safe place to start my journey!

Upon arrival, I took an Uber straight to Willem’s place. A beautiful flat in the seafront with my own bedroom and bathroom! What a start of my journey.

What a nice gesture to host someone that you briefly know. I have done that in the past, so staying with Willem was something I was comfortable with. Willem was due to return to Europe in few days. But during my days with him there were some things he had to do while there, specially maintaining the property. So I went along with it and helped where possible.

This was the first of a series of beautiful connections that would come along my trip. Outside the fuzz of hectic London and Europe, we had the time (9000km away) to chat and share our life experiences. Both recovering from difficult years (his motorbike accident, my massive burn out at work with its subsequent life crumble), we had lots to share and managed to see the real person inside each other.

Knowing about his life, his past, the challenges he went through allowed me to reassure what a beautiful person Willem was. So I was grateful I spent few days at his place, have an easy start of my time in Cape Town and share time together.

So my search for accommodation was not easy. And the kind of places I had to stay until, were not particularly nice.

But my luck and Willem’s generosity went further, and few days after he offered me to stay at his place once his family would leave the flat after the festive season. So I would need to find accommodation for 1 month until I could move to his place.

What a fortunate start of my trip, to find such a generous soul and great place to stay. They say Universe is wisdom and returns what you give. And although I did a similar thing for someone in the past, this reassured me that this trip would not be only about exploring and ‘leisuring‘ but also about giving and connecting. Kindness would be a recurring theme during this trip.

The Universe is wisdom and places the right people at the right time to enable our trip. Thank you Willem for your generosity and for teach me the first lesson in this journey.