NO ORDINARY GUEST HOUSE          - 9/ 1/ 2012      <--Prev : Next-->

I knew it was no ordinary guest house when a tiny but tubby mongoose jumped on my lap and nestled comfortably in the crook of my arm His name was Scratch and he had elegant thin long fingers and he would pry into ones little crevices inquisitively but gently !!

I had wondered about the name of the guest house "Valencia" ? How much more unlike Italy could one get in the heart of the Beitbridge mopani scrub but then it dawned on me that it was named after the Valencia oranges that grew prolifically on the estate.

In fact each room in the guest house was named and exquisitely decorated after a citrus fruit, the Mandarin Room, The Naartjie Room, the Ruby Grapefruit Room, the Lime Room, Lemon Room and so on.

Being a city slicker I thought I would choose an upstairs room but was not prepared for my early morning visitor, I awoke to feel someone gently tugging at the duvet and it was Thomas the family giraffe waking me up to play !! I had chosen the Lime Room and he obviously like the colour of the green duvet ! His muzzle was warm and fuzzy and his long neck and head quite comfortably reached into the second floor of the guest house...

His long tongue gently caressed my iphone, my computer and my binos which were on the dresser and I wondered if Apple would believe me if I sent them in for repair Would the insurance company buy the explanation "A giraffe licked the keyboard?"

But he soon tired of that pastime and ambled off on his way with his large and growing family This piece of paradise in the middle of the arid Beitbridge heartland was somehow hard to figure out. A vast green park with ancient old fig trees, cicadas, enormous tree ferns, abundant banana trees, exotic palms, bizzie lizzies, delicious monsters and elephant ears as well as arum lilies grouped together so artistically that each corner of the garden literally took ones' breath away.

A group of cream coloured bantams worked their way industriously through the foliage, and I could swear I could hear buffalo and lion calling in the distance but I was not quite sure, however anything was possible.

The Brown Headed Kingfisher called shrilly, annoyed that I had dared to answer him with my Sasol Bird Calls on my phone He was determined to find out where the interloper was and drive him from his own private patch of paradise.

My trip to the guest house had not been without adventure I had ambled slowly along the Beitbridge road not needing to make haste, and the 15km of dirt road to the guest house was in excellent condition It was just that no one had accounted for the cloud burst (most unusual in Beitbridge) that had totally swamped the low level bridges on the water courses along the road I manfully eased my way through the first one which was just lapping at the edge of the bridge, accompanied by lots of excited encouragement from the locals who had come to enjoy the unusual spectacle, but the second one had me foxed.

The river was forty metres wide at that stage and my low clearance "townie" car had no chance of crossing.

Being of pioneer stock, I knew that it was a question of "wait and see" a favourite African occupation, so I settled down with my trusty computer and wrote about the glory of rain in parched drought stricken southern Matabeleland.

I was soon joined by a seven toner ferrying farm workers home after the Christmas holiday, and several combis and trucks Rural folk are quite used to endless waiting periods so they soon had their colourful sarongs spread out, babies were being fed, packets of biscuits were opened and there were cases of Chibuku (the local lumpy opaque beer) freely available.

My bottle of water was soon gone and it was a case of either accepting the kind offer of chibuku or partaking of the river water so I decided discretion was the better part of valor and stayed thirsty !

I meandered up the hill aways and found a cell phone signal from where I contacted the Guest House in case they were panicking, such a pity to disturb their boxing day festivities but they arrived with land cruisers and we did what one does in Africa !!

Waited for the flood waters to subside, my hosts on one side of the river and I on the other Eventually we managed the crossing, Beitbridge folk are extraordinarily kind and generous and the Paul and Patty Bristow gathered me into their warm and wonderful home.

Dinner was divine, the lodge chef was superb and each room had an en suite bathroom and was so tastefully appointed I spent a long time examining each and every nook and cranny.

The new day dawned wet and enchanting, one could almost see the grass growing, Patty took me on a tour to visit the lion, the buffalo, and Thomas and his growing giraffe family The veld was wet and soggy and every corner exhibited a gem, here a group of Impala rams, there a peacock with his magnificent tail in full glory for a special exclusive show ! We then went to the next door ranch to visit the orphaned baby rhino and his loyal friend and confidant an eland !!

This is a very very special Guest House, 30 odd kms from the Beitbridge border post on an excellent graded road, five fabulous rooms, a most reasonable tariff and the perfect place to stay en route to or from South Africa, or even just to visit and unwind in perfect peace and tranquillity.

e mail magskriel@mac com for details