|Island Water Villas near Memel in the Free State|
One invaluable gift we’ve been blessed with in South Africa is good friends. Almost immediately upon arriving here, we were “adopted” by other families, invited over to braais, and generally shown the ways of this country.One such set of friends are Mike and Jacky and their two children. They are veterans of the African bush, owning every conceivable gadget you could possibly need not only to survive in the wild but live quite nicely. They also possess that most important of all things, a wonderful sense of humor. If I ever was stranded on a desert island, I would want to have them along. Going on a trip with Mike and Jacky is always an adventure. About a year ago they organized a weekend getaway at a place called Prynnsberg, a diamond magnate’s house built in the 1880s and currently in the process of being restored by a private family. It came complete with a large staff of cooks and domestics who treated our group of over thirty people like royalty, serving every meal in a different venue, culminating in a cookout-cum-slumberparty under an overhanging rock. Except we never got to the slumberparty phase, because we accidentally set the bush on fire and had to spend the rest of the night and most of the next day fighting a huge wildfire. A corporate team building exercise couldn’t have provided a better bonding experience, though I suspect the owners of the house and surrounding farms didn’t quite see it in such a positive light. Mike and Jacky are also owners of that other invaluable possession you should select your friends by, a power boat. Therefore, when asked if we wanted to come along for a week of waterskiing in the Free State, we enthusiastically said yes. That is how we recently found ourselves on a remote farm, living in a house in the middle of a private lake, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with no one but our two families to play in the water as we pleased (if you don’t count all the cows and sheep keeping us company).