Inspiring spaces: Hartenbos beach

A few weeks ago, I hurt my shoulder while swimming in the ocean. This probably doesn’t seem as upsetting to you as it does to me. A particularly strong wave threw me off my feet during high tide and I landed on the hard sand, shoulder first (luckily it wasn’t my neck). It was quite embarrassing, because I grew up in those same waves, at the same beach at Hartenbos, the little bit of ocean I’ve always been used to. It just shows you how Mother Nature keeps prevailing. Unconquerable.

I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent on this stretch of sand between Klein Brak and Diaz Beach. As a little girl, I didn’t like sand because it was grainy and icky and I didn’t like it when it stuck to my hands. In fact, it still hasn’t really changed. But now, I’m old enough to bear it in order to enjoy a relaxing day in the sun (preferably off-season), on a towel with a good book and the crashing blue waves just a few steps away.

Swimming is the closest thing to a sport that I love. I’ve always been more of an arty type, but I’m a water baby through and through. This beach, with its fine white sand and inconsistent blue horizon, has been something missing in my heart during my four years as a student in the North-West province.

The bay’s colour changes with the weather, and today, it’s a greyish blue that reflects the cloudiness above. I’m sitting on the wooden deck that the locals refer to as the “beach stage,” right in front of the public bathrooms and the little kiosk that is only open in December. The beach stage has a canopy roof and a jetty that stretches like a walkway toward the waves (indeed, the jetty is used for beauty pageants during the season when the sand and the swimming area is flooded with beachgoers). This exact spot is the hub of activity for the summer months, but now, in late February, it’s quiet. With the exception of couples and old people and locals picking up seashells.

Would all those people of the December Hartenbos beach vibe believe that I’ve sat here numerous times in the past, with no other soul in sight? Would they think it possible that their favourite holiday buzz spot can be a place of peace, of introspection and solitude? Believe me, I’ve made some pretty important life decisions while sitting alone on this beach. Contemplated my future, my hardships… But I won’t bore you with those.

Instead, I’ll let you enjoy the beauty of the beach I can call mine during the quiet months of the year. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Hartenbos, don’t pass it up – just remember not to visit between November and January.

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