The trees in South Africa are as diverse as its people. I recently went on a weekend retreat in Platbos, an ancient indigenous forest situated a few hours away from Cape Town. The festival was set up through an organization called GreenPop, a grassroots initiative that plants trees in sub-Saharan Africa. The intimate atmosphere of the Reforest Fest was as refreshing as the unspoiled air we breathed in all weekend. I attempted to meditate under a tree that’s estimated to be over 1,000 years old, but my train of thought led me to reflect upon all of the memories I’ve collected this semester. At night, live music and laughter reverberated through the milkwood trees, and all I wanted to do was suspend that moment in time. I ended the night by stargazing; I’ve been so spoiled with stars in South Africa. My friend and I even spotted what we think to be the constellation of Simba! 7001 planted trees later my friends and I headed back to reality, but not before getting our last dose Chai from Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour.
Last weekend my Dad visited, and having him here gave me the chance to see the city through new eyes. It was almost like being in Cape Town for the first time again as I gave him a tour of campus, Charlton house, and all of my favorite spots. We did a lot of new adventuring as well, including shark cage diving, which is a blog post in itself. I (gently) forced him to do some hiking with me, but not after he spent the afternoon eating copious amounts of meat at Mzoli’s (I swear every single citizen of Cape Town must have heard his burps echoing through the mountains). My dad’s visit was the perfect balance of food and laughter, and a little slice of home. Very thankful that he flew half way across the world to watch the sunset with me 🙂
Now that I’m on the tail end of my experience in South Africa, I’m beginning to feel uprooted right as I was in full bloom. Alright, enough metaphorical babble, but in all seriousness this semester has made me recognize the catch-22 of travel. There’s an innate desire to see all we can see, do all to be done, and branch out to touch every experience earthly possible. Yet, with each new experience you have to leave another behind. As much as I’ve soaked up South Africa these past four months, I have sacrificed spending time with my family and friends back home. That’s the conflict, the dilemma. Does that mean we stop searching, growing, branching out? Or does it mean that instead we keep the past in our front pocket as a close reminder until we’re reunited with it?
We can never have everything at once, so we better enjoy what we have while we have it…which is what I fully intend to do during my last few weeks here.