The Beauty of Solitude at Sunrise

I want to tell you about the sunrise, because you weren’t there. You were 5000 kilometres away and I was alone on Paje beach on the east coast of Zanzibar, still expecting you to take your place next to me. I waited for the sun to peep out of the darkness before I stood up and decided to take the step forward, to explore, by myself. If you weren’t going to join me, I would enjoy it for the both of us. I would explore everything.

I know that it is often that which first appears quiet or dark that holds the greatest mystery. And it did. The stillness of sunrise revealed a whole other world to me. People always say that sunrise and sunset stand like bookends on the tale of a day, but I realised that they hold stories of their own, if you take the time to look closely.

Sunrise is a different story across Africa, but on a beach in the Indian Ocean, I have found it often to be quite the same.

Sometimes you have been beside me, sometimes not, but you’ll remember me telling you about the waters of low tide that initiate the dance of local men and women heading out fishing in the morning – by boat and foot. I’ve sat with my camera to my face, tracing this dance – in Mauritius, in Madagascar, in Pemba Island, and here, in Zanzibar.

The beach is a different animal as the sun begins to rise and break across the clouds. It is still but moody, like a lion starting to wake, like you before your morning coffee. The ocean is darker, not yet the light turquoise that will coax other travellers from their sun loungers at midday.

I stood silently on shore. There were no foreigners yet, only the local Zanzibari that have moved across these waters for generations. I listened to the women talking among themselves as they tended to the seaweed farms scattered across the low water. I listened to the men heading out in dhows. Their Swahili was lost on me, but not all stories require words to be told. Soon the tide would rise and the women and men and dhows would disperse and the story would end, like the fire of sunrise. But I would have understood the moral. The lessons.

Since you weren’t there to give a voice to my thoughts, I’ll try now. I felt then a deep almost dazed peace wash over me like the sea slowly moving over the shore and I was reminded of something I’d forgotten. I was reminded that in me is a stillness that needs not only to be alone from time to time, but to be truly still, watching and listening, not thinking, analysing and anticipating.

I also realised that out here in the early morning, I had only myself to rely on. I was the sole narrator. Back home, I knew I would tell you about what I had seen and you would add your own views, your logic and knowledge. You would make sense of it all and my mind would be broader for it. But until then, I could tell myself whatever I liked. My imagination was free to run wild.

That’s the beauty of being alone on an island at sunrise – lost in translation with the few locals out and about. There is a sweet sense of freedom and dare I say valour of venturing into the unknown. But I did it for us both, remember that.

Keep following our blog for more tales and photos from our recent adventure in Zanzibar, while staying at the beautiful Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa.


Anjajavy and the Search For Meaning

Alain de Botton has said, “Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.”

You could say that it is exactly this sentiment that our Relais & Châteaux Inspire Me moodboard works on… a desire to encourage people to find that thing they believe to be missing in their lives, in themselves. It helps seekers to discover ways to live better, feel better and be better and is an approach to travel that speaks more to the human core, to the sense of meaning we all seek, than ever before.

Each image on the moodboard relates to a different desire or experience, for instance: a longing for a change in mind and body, a need to tune out or to be in awe, a yearning to learn, an aching for a deeper connection – with human, animal or nature, and a dream to face your fears…

Once you’ve chosen the inspiration that speaks to you most, only then do you choose the destination and the lodge or hotel. It was this that led me to Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar. A deep need for pretty much all of the above. I wanted to live more, feel more and be more and to do so, all roads were pointing me to this part of the Indian Ocean.

So here they are, six reasons to follow the path to Anjajavy le Lodge.

1. the desire for A change in mind and body

Sunrise yoga on the beach…

2. A need to tune out

Boat rides across the big blue…

3. A LONGING to BE in awe

Of something great, of something natural or man-made, but something grand.

4. A yearning to learn

From others and with others, and particular somewhere wholly unfamiliar to you, where every day is a mystery, a new discovery.

5. An aching for a deeper connection – whether human, animal or nature

Because nothing is quite as fulfilling as finding kindred spirits.

6. A dream to face your fears

Whatever they may be… wild animals or tiny airplanes.

Discover more about what to expect at Anjajavy le Lodge and Madagascar in our recent article on Instants, You keep me wild, I’ll keep you safe, and in our blogs:

How The Cape of Storms Celebrated World Oceans Day

Here in Cape Town, we may live on land, but we live with the ocean. We pass it daily as we move in and around the city, we gaze out over it from mountain peaks, we inhale its cool breeze from the shore and and watch the antics of its whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, gulls, surfers, kayakers, bodyboarders, divers, sailors and fishermen.

This World Oceans Day, we wanted to head out into its expanse with Ellerman House‘s team, on a fishing trip with local fishermen in a rather dingy dinghy from Kalk Bay harbour. We had a plan. We were excited. We were ready to ride the waves and reel in dinner, to learn more about the traditional ways, the sustainable fishing practices carried out daily in the Cape of South Africa.

But a storm hit. The biggest storm in decades. There was heavy rain, hail, gusting winds, lightning, power outages, flooding, displaced homes, closed businesses and schools, fallen trees. Chaos. And so, all the boats were grounded, so to speak. There would be no fishing.

And while we retreated indoors, wondering where Cape Town’s drought had disappeared to, we were reminded of nature’s power. Of the ocean’s strength, one covering 71 percent of our little Earth’s surface, and 99 percent of all the living space on the planet. We were humbled and a little in awe as we watched massive waves break onto the roads along our coast. The ocean was taking over.

Sometimes, we as earthlings, landlings, neglect that the waters around us are part of us, our lives. We think that they don’t affect us, that we don’t affect them. Sometimes, it takes a storm, conveniently timed with a day dedicated to just this revelation, to remember the importance of the Big Blue.

Atlantic, we see you. Indian, we feel you. Pacific, Arctic, Southern, we hear you. Rather than being separate, we are one. Before the storm, we headed to a favourite lookout point in Cape Town to spend some time with the sea – the rugged rocky cliffs of Cape Point, in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of the city. It is a place aptly named the Cape of Storms, by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, treated with great respect by sailors for centuries. A place where the immensity of the ocean is really unveiled and understood. (Take a look at the photos below.)

So while we have no fish dish to prepare, to celebrate this day with, perhaps that’s just the way the ocean wanted it. This rude awakening of the strength of the world’s oceans might have derailed our plans for World Oceans Day, but it taught us much more in the process.

For more about sustainable fishing practices, we caught up with a few influencers around the world in our magazine, Instants.

Read more in:

That Which the Sea Offers Us – Lionel and Manuela Brezo catch fish for the restaurant Mirazur. For them, as for its chef Mauro Colagreco, the sea is a constant source of inspiration that must be protected and preserved at all costs.

For the Love of Fish – Chef Julien Dumas is passionate about the sea. On the occasion of World Oceans Day, he spoke to us about the relationship of trust he has with his fish merchant Gilles Jégo, his decision to support sustainable fishing, and his love for cooking fish.

And discover more about our hotels and lodges in the Indian Ocean islands and the Cape, here in our blog, for a look at life lived in harmony with the world’s waters.