There is a road along the coast. Seagulls swoop and linger as the wind takes them back, so they swoop again. Silver sand and silver beach. Blinding beauty unfiltered by late afternoon sun. I want to stop to stand with the fishermen whooping lines that fall short for the gale force, but stand stiffly, battered by sand, but I drive on. They do not move.
The road is pocked with dunes, stragglers walking towards nothing. They are homeless, carrying plastic bags that are their lives and look down. Some carry sticks collected on the beach. They will make a fire tonight. They will sit and watch the fire and sleep where they sit. I wonder at their ability survive, want to stop, not sure why, but want to stop and find out more, but I drive on.
Another is pushing a milk crate on a makeshift cart. Crouched and pushing against the wind. He stops and bends to tend to the child inside the crate. A little boy, not but four. There is no destination in sight. The man is weary and the child bewildered. I want to stop and cover them with something. What, I do not know. I am a witness and I drive on.
Before me a battered truck, the hatch open and upwards. Inside a mattress sticks out the back and children are playing a game, hands touching, bodies swaying and a little girl falls over giggling, ‘come along if you feel … ‘ happiness lives in there for them. I envy them their simplicity and joy. Do I remember feeling that way? I wave as they turn towards the township and drive on and they wave back.
Tjiala time. Workers pour from vehicles and wave, shout and walk into the city of corrugated homes. Battered by the south easter, sweeping sand into doors and under beds. I cannot hear them, but drive past groups conversing, runners running, cyclists and children playing on the side of the road. Playing football in the dust. Washing whipping to a tune. The pulse is strong.
The pulse of people I shall never meet, never comfort and leave as I turn towards home, from the sea of everything. The infusion of theirs stays with me, for I have not just been driving along a beautiful coastal road today, I have driven past resilience. How to explain that for those minutes, those moments, I will remember them all. Remember it all … and maybe next time, I will have the courage to stop and make a difference.
Images dfherman, capetowntourism