Gamkaskloof is in my head again.
Like the Wild Coast, or the Namib desert, it is a place of such raw presence and beauty that once you have been, you can never forget.
Time becomes strange in this hidden valley.
In the other world, our daily world, time flows by like water, rushing.
It can create panic.
In that world you may find yourself thinking of a life gone by, opportunities missed.
In that world, time leaves us gasping. We say, ‘I wish I could have, but I am too old now.’
But here…here time becomes big. In the heat of the day, time slow drips like honey.
You can breathe, seemingly for the first time.

You can open up your eyes – yet gaze within.

I awoke alone in the dead of night, down in the far campground.

Something had scratched at the door of my dreams.
I clambered from of my tent, chasing a whisper.
The moonlight made skeletons of the tree branches, painted black on the white dusty earth.
‘Wha..?’ I asked, but the silence stilled me.
A kudu crashed through the thick bush. The baboons were quiet, and the leopard sought them out.
The river gurgled and splashed while the stars spangled, and I listened.
There, in the powder dark of the African night, I learned a secret.
I left the kloof the next day.
Baboons barked goodbye, insects buzzed in omnicolour, and the leopard slept.
The river sparkled as the sun blazed, and the slate headstones stood guard in the graveyard.
The web of life in this hidden world gently released me, knowing I would always return.
I took my secret with me, a clue on the path to my far horizon.


All photos copyright of Stuart Henshilwood

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