The very first time I set foot in South Africa was in the winter of 2001. Of course, winter in South Africa means summer in the Netherlands. I, a copywriter at the time, was accompanied by 3 photographic models, a photographer, a marketing manager and a few more people to produce a magazine about men’s fashion and lifestyle. I was ill prepared but hungry for adventure. As far as the magazine goes, it did not go as planned. Cape Town was cold and grey (because of winter) and it struck me that no one was walking in the streets. Everybody was driving. If I am being honest, it felt a bit uneasy. Now this was my first trip far away, so I did not know what to expect 10.000 kilometers from Amsterdam. The pictures in my South Africa travel guide were vastly different from reality. The travel guide featured white beaches, endless ocean views and beautiful pictures of houses and restaurants. Nowhere in the book did it say anything about the townships you see passing by for miles from the airport.
The Table Mountain, beautiful with sunlight, was not even visible because of the thick clouds covering Cape Town. I do not know at what moment it all changed. Maybe when we arranged a photo shoot at Green Market downtown, a colourful spectacle. Or when we shot beautiful pictures in the mansion of a friend of a friend who gave us some great tips about a few neighbourhoods where graffiti on the walls would be a perfect backdrop for photoshoots with western fashion. We immersed ourselves in the city. We drove crisscross through neighbourhoods like true location scouts, drank coffee in colourful tents, had dinner at Big Mama’s where we sat next to Arnold Schwarzenegger (nice), got used to the city and saw more beautiful things by the hour. After five days we flew to Port Elizabeth. From here we went to Scotia’s Safari’s to take pictures of the men in casual clothing in a natural setting. The moment I really fell in love with South Africa was when we went on a safari in an open all-terrain vehicle and I looked straight in the eyes of a lion while I was sitting on top of the roof of the Land Rover. The colour of the eyes seemed pure gold and the ranger told me that the colour palette of lion eyes varies from gold to intense chestnut, depending on the age and light of day. It is a good thing that I did not know at that time that a lion can run at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour and can jump instantaneously. I was sitting less than five meters away taking pictures. I also did not know that if a lion has a full stomach, it will still jump at easy prey if it feels like it. I was only familiar with the pictures of sleeping lions, lethargic except when eating (in big quantities). I am still impressed by the power and strength of the lions.
Fortunately, even at Seven Fountains Farm we are not far from the lions!
But do not worry, they are not in our garden.