I keep telling them that it is a wonder of sorts that we are here, so far south, on the Western Cape. A fall climate with angled sun that dissolves into cool evenings filled by the crunch of sand and scrub, and the bees riding waves of air. I look at maps and Antartica seems almost touchable.
The waves here boom and roll, and though it seems terribly cold, the locals run towards the water in their wetsuits, boards held between arm and body, only pausing to navigate slippery rocks. They are mostly young, though I saw one man with gray tinting his temples and beard. He approached the water more thoughtfully than the others, but seemed more intense about the lines and waves he rode.
We saw stingrays, and long slivers of salmon running, and heard tell of shark sightings. A week earlier, 40 pilot whales beached themselves near Hamelin Bay and despite locals’ efforts, perished. Up the Margaret River we went with a canoe, though we were not good at it, often drifting from side to side and frustrated by our lack of coordinated effort. We sampled strips of kangaroo, emu, and crocodile meat, and touched peppermint and tea tree bark. Leaped from a large rock into the cold river darkness.
Later, we drew our hoods around our faces during evening walks along the coastline and on the beach. The clouds would roll in during the night, and I could not tell from where, and the disconcerting fact of my inability to understand much of anything, of nature, of beauty, of that endless, endless ocean, weighed heavily on my sleep.