My four wheels crunched and slid as I slowed the 4x4 to a halt in the thick mud. Perched, wings arched and shoulders hunched like a vampiric character from the dark ages, a large raptor squatted over his prey on a craggy outcrop a mere two meters from the roadside. Breakfast, it seemed was to be a large puffadder, freshly killed and still twitching in his hand sized talons.
I let the vehicle idle as I watched, captivated by the raw power and beauty of the final moments of the age old game of life and death that was playing itself out in front of me. The eagle, nervous by my presence cast wary glances in my direction while he adjusted his grip on his meal. A few minutes passed and he (or possibly she?) effortlessly launched into the air to find a higher roost, the snake swinging, dead, beneath the spread wings.
Breathless with the special moment I alone had witnessed, I paused and with fresh eyes looked around at where I was. The muddy mountain track wound and twisted through the hills behind me and in front of me curved around the mountain to cross the river atop a vast and plunging waterfall. Not a human settlement, or indeed any indication of human habitation as far as the eye could see in every direction. The bush covered hills below me dropped away into a riverine forested valley than ran on to a typical Transkei estuary and then the sea in the distance. All around wild, wild, wild.
Awed by the magnificence I drank it all in before inevitably forcing myself to move on. I was sick and needed to get myself back to civilisation to get the antibiotics I needed to get well. As the morning passed with me driving alone through the mud and rivers and rock and bush out to find the nearest town across the border, I was surprised by the thoughts that circled my mind like birds of prey riding the thermals in the sky. Firstly I was overcome with such a feeling of passion for this place and it's nature and it's people, and secondly, as much as the solitude of the moment and the trip had been special, I was reminded so vividly, that experiences, unless shared with someone (and preferably someone special) are selfish moments and lack richness in terms of real human value. Lastly I was stunned, by the huge creative injection it gave me. At that moment I wanted so badly to stop right there and draw and paint and create ... it charged my creative battery to overload; but much much more than that I wanted to be holding someone's hand and say "Look at that! Isn't it beautiful?"