Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif. A spell. A promise. We kept repeating the word to each other with longing, desperate to get away from the perils of our everyday. Our cosy straw bale cottage in Oudrif was waiting at the end of a longwinded dirt road leading to the banks of the now silent Doring River. The drought has taken its toll despite the fact that we arrived just after unusually heavy rainfalls. Leopards and aardvarks still roam in this landscape and the veld smells of earth and honey and quiet content. The light is kind here, the peace absolute. No cell phone reception, no worries. Our hosts, Jeanine and Bill, welcomed us with cider, beer and smiles. And stories. Their knowledge about the area is spectacular. Their environmental consciousness something to aspire to. And their love for animals is heart-warming. They are fantastic hosts and chefs, infusing every dish with creativity and generosity.
Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif. In Polish, we speak of such secluded spots as the places where the Devil says good night. But Oudrif is paradise on earth, day and night. Solar-powered angel lights guide you through the darkness before the stars light up the night. The place is totally independent of the municipal electricity and water grids. Any negative environmental impact is kept to a minimum.
Every day after breakfast, there is the possibility of a walk. Whether to see the rock art recorded in this landscape, or the Chandelier Lily in full bloom, or a flock of Speckled Mousebirds, the hikes restore one’s soul to oneself. (The ginormous scorpion which crossed my path – my first ever encounter – late one night shall be mentioned only in brackets.) The rocks of the area speak of pre-historic times; each layer holds a different story. We were surrounded by ancient secrets. The rock art reminds of our deep need to engage with visions and reality, to create understanding and capture beauty. A collection of heart-shaped stones of all sizes decorates the central dining area of Oudrif – I left mine behind among them. Books are everywhere, making readers feel at home.
All around is rooibos country, every breath infused with the typical, soothing scent of the tea bush. But it was a mug of freshly brewed coffee on the stoep of our cottage that got us going every morning. In the afternoons, dry heat lured us back to bed and the setting sun invited for a swim in the rock pools of the Doring still full of balmy waters. The laziness of those tipsy hours of sleep, lounging about and playing cribbage… And the full moon dinner stories in the company of fascinating, like-minded, isolation-seeking guests from around the world… Let us return soon and sink into the loving arms of happily exhausted days at Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif.