After arriving at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat, just two hours out of Cape Town we decided to walk the labyrinth. Taking off our shoes we placed our hands in prayer position and walked slowly, following the gentle curved pathway. It was meditative and lovely, calm and spiritual. We dodged the mole hills, moles are just as welcome at Bodhi Khaya as people are, kept our balance and reached the centre. It was a beautiful start to a weekend, one that became about rest and restoration, exactly what we had in mind.
We settled in. And over the course of the next few days, excelled at changing position. We lay on our beds or sofas, overlooking the fynbos and mountains. We lay on the grass feeling the warm sun on our skin, and on our backs in the water at the swimming hole. We lay and watched the birds and the eagles, the dragonflies and the terrapins, the clouds drifting across the sky, the sky changing colour and the stars coming out.
Once we sat on a bench under trees that were hundreds of years old, but that was our only concession to being upright. We dozed, dreamed and lounged, forgetting about the world’s problems, or even, trying to solve them.
Brenda did a bit of solitary walking, there are amazing trails at Bodhi Khaya, and we did move once at great pace to chase the baboons out of our cottage. HOW DARE YOU, we yelled, seeing they’d eaten the pears, mangoes, the pawpaw, demolished the avocados, GOOD GOD THEY GOT THE SMOKED SALMON, the cookies, okay we are okay, the chocolate was packed away, the hummus is in the fridge, we definitely won’t go short on food.
There are signs saying: ‘Baboons. Please close doors and windows when you go out.’
We just lost our minds for a couple of hours. The air is clean, fresh and heady; it becomes hard to think straight.
Everyone who lives in South Africa has a baboon story. My son has never forgiven the baboon on Table Mountain who stole his salt and vinegar crisps twenty years ago. He was six.
I sent him a message to say hey, maybe it’s time to let go of your grudge. He conceded.
It is easy to let go of grudges when you are on a retreat. We headed off to check out the restaurant. Although we had booked self catering, Bodhi Khaya provide fabulous wholesome meals, piles of veggies, salads, bread just out the oven, a beautiful vibe and communal tables where people meet and share their stories.
And Bodhi Khaya is filled with stories. The trees, and some are THOUSANDS of years old, have stories. The Buddhas resting under trees have stories. The moles that you never see have stories. Georgina Hamilton, the guardian and curator of Bodhi Khaya, has incredible stories of reforesting, restoring and renewing the land, inviting anyone to join her on this journey. Bodhi Khaya is a magnificent retreat where one can relax, read, snooze, swim, walk, practice yoga, meditate, meet others, plant a tree, look at your phone if you want, I like that there is wifi, or, just be.
There is reforesting and restoring but there is re-souling too.
Just after we checked out, and sorry Georgina I helped myself to the banana date cookies in the reception thinking I should get them before the baboons, we decided to do the labyrinth one more time. Once again we removed our shoes, inhaled, and began our meander.
But this time round it was different. It may have taken us ten minutes longer than the first time. Maybe half an hour. When we reached the centre, we spoke about how we felt. We had both walked differently this time, with thought, consideration and intention, without focusing on the centre, the result.
This labyrinth journey felt more grounded. Planted. As Georgina said, after holding an equinox event last year where people came from all around the world to celebrate life, nature and trees:-
“Have we just planted 2000 new trees? Or have 2000 new trees planted us.”
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