About three years ago, I sat under a tree and heard someone say “Hopefield,” and decided that that is the place where I’m going to live. We were running the rat race. Tinus is an Air Traffic Controller and at point I was a teacher, (who cared - oink oink) in a collapsing education system. I was recuperating after having been hospitalized for stomach ulcers, at my folks’ house here in Saldanha - my sanctuary – coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed mortal.
The West Coast of South Africa is a harsh and arid landscape with a peculiar hidden beauty. The people who live here are a unique breed who can survive in this strange dry land, which rewards its devotees with a paradise-like winter landscape of brilliant green and gold - fields of corn and cranola. And then after winter comes the flowers. People from all over the world come here during August and September, to experience the mind blowing vistas of painted hills. Flowers as far as the eye can see. But the true beauty only becomes visible once you stop and get down on your knees as if in prayer.
My dad drove me through the little village, I saw my little house on the hill, and bought it. My time in Hopefield gave me so much, taught me so much. For the first time in my life, I owned power tools - no, no, owned AND used - power tools. Hooo-raaaahhh!! I built, I fixed, I grew. I met an array of beautiful people with great hearts, open minds and helpful hands. I find it impossible to believe that in one village so many people with a similar mindset came together, and that I was fortunate enough to be there as well. Strangely enough we were all “inkommers.” A word used by the local people to describe people coming in from outside, we came, we saw and we stayed.
And then we left. We leave quite a lot, both Tinus and myself are nomads. In our, soon to be twenty one years of marriage, we have never stayed in one place for more than three years. Hopefield was the most difficult place I ever left. Two months ago, I cried bitterly, as I stood on the Veranda at the Merry Widow with Ilze and Lizana, not wanting to let go. Then the whirl winds came and tossed us around, and when we came down, our friends here in Hopefield caught us, and held us tight.
I now know why I cried so the last time we left – I thought that we were at the end of our friendship, that we will never be able to return to what we had. And now, as I sit here on the floor between my suitcases, ready to leave for the airport, my heart is light, I know it will always be as it is. I am fond of saying one can never go back, but you know what, you can, I did, and now that I know one can go back, I am ready to go.