GANSBAAI, South Africa— One night as my sister and I walked across the rugged yet strangely delicate terrain of a place called Farm 215, the path to our cottage lighted only by the stars and a flashlight, the wine-wobbly beam suddenly illuminated several sets of legs.
A moment of what the …? And then we realized that we were standing in the middle of a small herd of horses, including two mares and their foals, that roam the South African eco-retreat outside Gansbaai.
It was a perfect mother-child moment and a symbol of new beginnings in this Southern Hemisphere spring.
We were on a mother-daughter voyage of our own as we ventured off the beaten track across South Africa’s Western Cape province, breaking the confines of Cape Town and entering a wonderfully natural world whose mountains are a cross between the San Gabriels around L.A. and the backdrop of a John Ford western.
I wanted to show my mother and sister a country that had attached itself to my heart.
On my first trip 10 years ago, I came as the wife of a South African who had left during the depths of apartheid. Five years later, I came as a widow on a solo journey to toss my husband’s ashes into the Indian Ocean off the beach town he loved. This time, I came as a daughter and sister on a trip that turned out to be a celebration of family ties.
Even when we took to the water, we had the mother-child thing going on. We were in the Overberg, a rustic area southeast of Cape Town whose coast is known as the premier breeding ground of the southern right whale. We got lucky and saw a mama whale and her baby only a few yards from our boat on the way to a dive in “shark alley.”
Yes, my sister and I had decided to get into a cage and say hello to some great whites on their own turf. Our mom, the smartest of the group, was happy to stay on deck as the documentarian.
Read more: Kari Howard, LA Times