It was last afternoon when we left the wedding party on the beach and headed for Storms River which took us across the impressive Bloukrans Bridge (R33 toll, no stopping, no photos).

We arrived at Dijembe (left) just before seven. It looks basic, but then it is a backpackers hostel. Even so, there was a jacuzzi heating on the veranda full of Tsitsikamma spring water and a bottle of dry white Sauvignon blanc chilling in the fridge for Mrs and Miss P.

Dinner was also served, roast chicken with lots of salad and vegetable dishes that were absolutely delicious and it was while we were eating that Gloria introduced herself to us.

She was a black woman dressed as you might imagine with a turban, long skirt, blouse and jacket, all bright and earthy colours to match the country.

She told us she had come to sing and play the jah drum for us and the other guests in exchange for donations towards the school and crèche she helps run for children orphaned by HIV. They receive no government funding and rely on others to buy exercise books and other basic school equipment.

We sat round the fire while she sang mostly in her own tongue, but celebrating her Christian beliefs. One spoke of thanking God for our own lives by using it to help others.

Gloria said she was not an educated woman which was clearly nonsense — she had natural wisdom and vitality and had put herself through college later in life to qualify for the teaching and nurturing task she’d set herself.

The hat was passed round and she was ready to leave, but agreed to one last song when asked. Mrs P gave her R100 for that reprise and Gloria kissed that note as if it had been a million.

And so there was me feeling guilty again, playing at roughing it when it is nothing of the sort by comparison. And what we had spent on that one night’s lodgings, even in a backpackers, might have kept Gloria’s kids for a week.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

1 comment… Add yours
  • lesley 14th February 2011

    Aaaaah… the bottles of vino, the native drumming round the camp fire and speaking in tongues – reminds me of a recent sheffield training course!!


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