“For to be free is not to merely cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela
It is my favourite time of day, guests are on drive and preparations for the evening have slowly begun, the camp stills beneath the early evening light. I’m watching a butler on Varty deck fold crisp white napkins with swift decisive movements, a practised hand shows he has done it a thousand times before. But still he takes great care with each fold, smoothing the white cotton with strong hands that have seen a lifetime of work. He’s been telling me stories of his childhood as we sit above the Sand River and I am captivated by his every word. He unfolds some of life’s big questions with the simplest of stories and great humour. There is a weightiness and lightness to this man of service which I find quite beautiful. This is a man who knows contentment and that is a rare gift.
Contentment and care.
Two words, alongside many others that resonate with this magical place. I am a lover of all things aquatic especially the ocean so it is no small miracle that I find myself in this bush wilderness and in a drought no less!
I have recently joined the Londolozi family as one of Life’s massage therapists. This after many years of working for myself, swearing never to work for someone else again.
Having worked in wellness all my life I have seen how something that at its very heart is about care and healing has been spun into a product selling racket trying to squeeze as many bodies in to make as much turnover as possible.
So when a friend recommended that I spend a season in the bush for some life perspective. I was excited by the prospect of being in the wild but not so much of working under a ‘Spa beauty’ mentality usually found in hospitality arenas. She assured me Londolozi was unlike any other place and operated from a different philosophy.
I was sceptical but to say I have been pleasantly surprised is a huge understatement. What I have encountered is truly rare. From the owners Shan and Dave Varty who are genuinely interested and invested in each member of staff, to a small dedicated team of women who all take great pride in what they do and are afforded the freedom from management to express themselves in their treatments uniquely. There is a standard of excellence without uniformity. Most importantly they have heart and care deeply for others. A heart of care is where healing begins. I was told about the Nilotic meridian that runs beneath Londolozi, which may contribute to the unique frequency of this place. Sceptics may scoff at this, call it what you will. All I know is I’ve been working hands on with people all my life and I can say that there is a creative healing energy here that inspires and energizes in quite a unique and profound way. I am in the last week of my first six week cycle here and I feel so very privileged to find myself in this new family at Londolozi. ‘Family’ a word I’ve heard thrown about before by corporate marketers trying to use warm language to veil industries whose target are profit and little else.
Amazingly it is a word that rings true here and is authentic in every way. As any human knows not all members of a family always get along but they have a common purpose and a sense of belonging. People care for people here.
An American guest recently mentioned to me after having a walk through the village and having seen where we all live that he wishes his nation would learn how to live in harmony with each other the way we do here. It struck me as profound upon thinking on what he had said that it was the fulfilment of our nation’s most beloved leader, Nelson Mandela whose life’s work was for a nation of different cultures and races to live and work harmoniously side by side.
As the sun begins to set and that magical African golden light spreads across the deck, the butler I’ve been learning so much from rises to leave and with a wink tells me I shouldn’t be alone on a beautiful night like this. I tell him with a warm heart that I don’t feel alone at all but find myself more free and content than ever before.