The Medicine of Small and Simple Things

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My day started with a flood in my bedroom at 1am. After a sleeplessness night I was determined to revisit Darling a sleepy hollow in the Western Cape where two rock, bone, mineral and stone wizards live. One who has done extensive studies on peoples who left invocations engraved on the bones of Mother Africa, the other a gentle soul who sits in a room filled with crystals and stones and heals through remembering. I left the small room I am renting, after a call where I told the person I was coming ~not sure how or when.

After the flood my second teacher was a Rastafarian Khoi San Taxi driver. “Can I get to Darling?”

“Take this taxi and change in Atlantis……..” he replied

” Are you sure? I dont want to get stranded”  It was a Sunday, it was a 45 minute journey and it was a South African “TAXI”

“If you think you are going to get stranded, you will” He returned to playing with his cell phone, leaving me without a response. Maybe I was remembering a past life, being stranded in Atlantis.

Taxi in this context is a VW Combie, which packs in up to 16 seated and several standing. Some of the taxis are held together with chewing gum and string. The cost is Rand 16 about $2 and they wait up to an hour to fill every seat. When we actually start moving stop signs are there for decoration as are traffic lights. If they want to stop in the road for a chat they will. I dont usually leave my fate in the hands of infamous reckless drivers but that is the only way to get from A to Z for the majority who cannot afford cars. Public transport was never a proirity for the majority of disadvantaged people, until the world cup that is.  My taxi was also a  church on wheels that morning,  he made sure we all got the “message” turning up the preacher on the radio as loud as possible, Jesus is still alive and well it seems. Finally we arrived at Atlantis, my  driver escorted me to the next waiting taxi, saying “You’l be alright Aunty” He clearly knew something I didn’t.

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Here I sat and waited and waited. I  watched how people have become so tolerant of their lot. The unforgivable situations that caused people to be discarded, and forcibly removed to urban desert wastelands, still sits with me like a stone boulder, long after apartheid ended. I was squashed between a mama and her 10 shopping bags and a young girl dressed in Sunday best. The taxi driver called me aunty, the old man pop and the old woman mama.  I felt peaceful and at home  together with all these strangers,  as I had done the week before in three townships known as the most dangerous in Cape Town, I felt safe!

Image Squalor, and poverty live alongside community and generosity. Devastation and hunger lives with a feeling of abundance a trust that money will come, and somehow it usually does. And if it doesn’t then we can ask the neighbor for food,  they will share what little they have. Three young men sang for me in the most beautiful harmony I have ever heard in their corrugated iron shack. That day one of them had just walked several miles dressed in his best clothes for an interview at the airport. He was rejected and walked all the way back. Still smiling, still forgiving that he was one of thousands who are unemployed with little hope in finding work, he was though excited to sing for me.  I felt I was in a rich pot purri of love and abundance. I visited a well reknowned musician who shared one room  with three other people. But she welcomed me this stranger  like a long lost family member.  She played her harp holding it in her teeth and resting it close to her black skin  ” Like a baby” she said. Her voice was deep and old and other worldly and she hugged me this stranger like my grandmother.

 I did arrive in Darling and I felt lost among the strange festivities, of gourmet food and champagne, I couldnt wait to get out to breathe the sea air.

I realized that my adventures don’t always have to be mind boggling wonders of the world. They are also in making a commitment and taking a risk,…traveling in a beat up old Taxi stuffed to the brim with locals. rattling its way to a far away place….trusting that I would not get stranded. On that adventure I received much healing medicine, from the people of my homeland. They have chosen strength, and  resilience over riots.  Forgiveness over bitterness, peace over war. I remembered how blessed I am and have been, how much I have, and how good it feels to be welcomed by these communities.

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Later that day the rock wizard said to me “  Your time in South Africa is like a being in a wilderness gathering medicines and you won’t know which one you will need until you hold it in your hand……and remember”  Ah the medicine of small, simple and wondrous things.

Gathering medicine in the Botswana wilderness with Naba from the beautiful Bushmen women

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