About twenty-five years ago I had reason to travel the road between Windhoek, Keetmanshoop and Cape Town a number of times a year. Whenever I passed the Clanwilliam Dam I was thankful that the journey was more than half done: I remember looking over the expanse of water, usually at night, observing the lights and the reflections, and wondering what it was like to to be experiencing that place, rather than passing it.
Today I live there, surprisingly enough for me. I have a guest house there, Saint du Barrys Country Lodge, and toegther with my wife, Joan, we've hosted thousands of guests. It's a strange thought. If I take eleven years multiplied by two hundred nights multiplied by six guests - just a rough calculation - I get thirteen thousand and two hundred guests.
They come to South Africa, or they live in South Africa, they travel this way, some on business, some on holiday, and they stay over. The average is something like 1.8 days. I am aware of the immense priviledge of sharing valuable time with so many people.
The more I become aware of how precious life and time are, the more carefully I look at the lives that cross ours, even for 1.8 days.
Everyone who arrives, stays and leaves has a story that impinges on the immediate, but also goes so much further. That's not our business, but after eleven years of doing this, we know that it matters. I remember a guest who came for repeat visits in the hottest heat of summer because the heat meant muscles could relax, the wheelchair could be put away, and pain was alleviated for the time being; I remember a couple who came at the beginning of each year and became firm friends; I am grateful for another couple who still arrive at the end of each year, and whose visits are a highlight; and the special twins who know who they are.
Obviously we can't cater for intimate personal details, but we know that each guest is on either a visit, a journey or a quest, depending on the intensity and purpose of time spent here.
We would like all of them to know that the Cederberg, Clanwilliam and Saint du Barrys offer a pause and an opportunity for realization of a different beauty and a reconnection to life that goes on.