If our week does not have a few belly laughs, and at least one ugly cry, we are totally lost. We have become quite used to what the trendy people now call “an emotionally expensive career”. I am not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing, but I know it keeps things real and that our tolerance for gaslighting and other types of bull is severely affected.


On Friday morning Olida handed me an envelope. (This in itself is a miraculous occasion,  because when last did you receive one? The SA post office has not delivered an envelope since around 1995, so this is indeed something to celebrate!) But before I get your hopes up, and spread false news, the envelope was delivered in person, not by the postal service, and it was marked, repeatedly as “strictly confidential” and had many layers of cello tape on it ensuring that it would remain very private, to the point of making it nearly impossible to open. While forcing my way in to the envelope, I pictured a letter with letters cut out of a magazine spelling out a ransom, or maybe someone stole my cat? What I found once I finally managed to wrangle it open was a long letter typed out on a standard A4. I am not sure I know the person, but apparently, he knows me well and by name “nogal”. I suppose that should be expected from someone who introduces himself as “David, 47th generation herbalist and healer”. I am sure about 35 generations ago we must have met in another realm? Anyhoo, he has been following the progress of Silvino Freitas with baited breath on social media (If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know all about our recent remarkable guest). He says he is grateful that we have opened our hearts to him. If I was not suspicious before, I was now, and felt sure that in the next sentence or two he was going to let me know that I am the only heiress of a Nigerian king desperate to part with his money, if I pay him $600. I was wrong however. David had another suggestion. After stroking my ego by letting me know how warm my heart is and how he knows that a neighbour that recently choked to death who would have been spared this tragic end if he had phoned me (my Heimlich skills must cleary be widely known and celebrated?), he informed me that he is also a fortune teller and knows that I will take it upon myself to open the lodge up and accept some of his “patients” free of charge. He will then offer his services, for which he usually charges R32 000, to our guests. He lets me know that he can heal all diseases and maladies, from measles, to pancreatic cancer, to ingrown toenails, to losing a lover or enlarging certain bits of the male anatomy. He will offer this to all my guests, at a reduced rate of 50%. This is really a deal that I cannot ignore, don’t you think? His patients will save so much money, as they won’t need to pay me, and then can spend it on him and his miraculous cures. A win win for him indeed.


And so, our week continued with the surreal. We have security cameras (as all South Africans do I suppose) and while checking footage this week, Leonard sent me a video clip of a ghost sighting (a few blogs back we chatted about a ghost that was later identified as my very own husband), but now we had irrefutable proof on camera. The video footage of the ghost spread like wildfire through the lodge. In the video you see a deserted laundry at night, when all of a sudden, a white puff of air appears, travels from the wall, past the camera and out of sight. I have no idea what it was, but what was even stranger than the poltergeist was the speed of which the video travelled between staff members. Within ten minutes everyone knew that there is a “new” ghost. I wish this ghost came sooner as I have never seen staff work faster and get work done at such a speed before!


But this last week unfortunately contained less laughter and more crying – not always ugly-cry sobbing, but a few tears here and there. I was told by my Nazi physio to rest my recently operated knee a lot more, so I endeavored to work from my bed for four days. Nazi physio has a special bond with my Bossy Husband, and between the two of them I spent so much time imprisoned in my bedroom that I managed to crochet a heap of beanies and get progressively grumpier…. but I digress. One of our end-of-life patient’s daughter has become a dear friend of mine. She missed me and said she would pop in. She is a dog whisperer (she actually has a side hustle in the legal profession, but the dog thing is much cooler) so our dogs did not bark and she managed to make her way right to my bedroom without me knowing. As she arrived, she gave me a hug, walked around my bed, took her shoes off and made herself comfy next to me.  I was so happy that I did not have to get up, but even happier that we share this rich friendship that is so comfortable outside Sandton’s usual personal boundaries. And so, we talked and giggled and cried. We talked about what our plan will be when her mom dies. This is a narrative that is incredibly hard, but if we do not broach it, and leave it, the damage is worse. The next minute my friend, Craig, a palliative care doctor, also arrived. (The dogs announced him loud and clear. He might think he is an animal whisperer too, but it seems he is only chatting to the grim reaper and not the K9’s). He came into the bedroom too, pulled a chair closer to my bed, popped off his shoes and put them under the duvet. Somehow all three of us were able to find words to describe the week we had had. I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. All three of us are paying high prices emotionally right now, for various reasons, and the grace that true connection allows you is like gentle balm on sunburn. It is not easy to be vulnerable or be a safe space for others, but is there anything else that comes close? As I sat cuddled in the bed, my cat on my lap, surrounded by two friends, I thought “This is my wealth… these relationships that do not need fancy restaurants, clothes, and adventures; just each other and words.” Before I get too deep and emotional, my wealth doubled soon after Craig arrived because my husband walked into the bedroom with a tray, filled with popcorn, droe wors and gin and tonics! I looked up at him as he came through the doorway and knew without a doubt, that he is the one that will always show up for me. That security makes it so much easier to build these relationships that hold us together. And, also… he brought gin.


We have a new guest. She is American and beautiful. She had a horrific accident whilst bridge swinging over the Victoria falls. Theaccident was so horrible that I am now drawing up contracts for my children to sign that they will never do any adventurous sports. Her whole accident was captured on video (What is not these days?). I have watched it a few times and I cannot bear to imagine the torture of getting herself untangled from the safety harnesses, being transported on bumpy roads and spending one night in a village clinic before being medevacked to Johannesburg. She tells me the nurses in the surgical ward called her the “crying patient” instead of Ms So-and-so as she cried for three days. (I would have cried for three months!). Imagine being far from your first world country, having a horrendously traumatic accident and surgeries and then having to deal with your emotional trauma too? She stayed in hospital for ten days and then begged the doctors to discharge her. I sat with her today and she was cuddled up in a fleecy blanket, her cheeks red from her bath and her hair in a fluffy white towel. I knew she was happy to leave the hospital. Obakeng Ubered there to help her pack and for emotional support during the ambulance ride to us. Obakeng filmed her leaving the hospital, strapped into a stretcher but fist pumping all the way. It is quite comical to see, and also truly concerning that her stay at hospital was more upsetting than her accident. She tells me that her “superpower is connection” and that in hospital she was totally unable to connect. No one cared for her. Her worst time of the day was when a cardboard tub with warm water and paper towels would be left next to her and she was told to bath. (This is a top private hospital… and I am not sure of why this is now the practice, but it seems it is the new norm). Fortunately for her, Nthabiseng’s super power is bathing. She gently took our Yankee guest, made sure her dressings were waterproofed and washed her gently and kindly. Tears streamed down the guest’s cheeks as she was reminded of what it is like to be treated with tenderness. Her hair still had little twigs in it from the day of the accident, a fortnight before. How do we accept this? Why is it that modern medicine separates our emotional and physical beings to such an extent? Why do we still choose to think that we can focus only on the human body and totally and completely ignore emotional health? Surely we cannot be that stupid or lazy? So what is it? What drives us? Or is it actually a deliberate ploy of the corporate medical machine?


As I was chatting to her, I got called away as I needed to say goodbye to Silvino. Remember him? He was the victim of a rotten government that has looted and destroyed our health system to such an extent that he almost died repeatedly and is forever maimed and damaged. But somehow, during the three and a half weeks we had with him at the lodge, wounds healed, on his body, but also in his soul… also his family’s hearts. I can hardly believe he is the same man. I will miss them so much and their beautiful happy ending. It really feels like we saw a miracle with what happened to Silvino. How lucky are we?



On the subject of miracles, I have decided not to take up David’s kind offer of curing all our illnesses and problems with his 47th generation sure-fire-cure. I’ll keep trusting the professionals we work with, like the physios, OTs, doctors and shrinks. I’ll keep believing in what we do here at Recovery, which is a combination of kindness and care that requires us to tap deeply in to our humanness. It requires a willingness to make the choice of paying an emotional price, and it is expensive indeed, but the wealth in our hearts has more value than what one can exchange in gold.