Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Matopos: The Spiritual in Nature

Though it wasn't intended, my recent trip throughout the land of Zim proved to be a lesson all about Mother Nature's relationship with the rawest, most beautiful continent in the world...

Ahh, my Motopos.  Also called Matobo, this area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys that lies 45 minutes south of the city of Bulawayo is considered by many here to be the spiritual homeland of Zim.  When visiting friend Abbie asked for me to expand on that concept before departing on our roadtrip, I couldn’t really explain.

“But what’s there?” she’d asked.

“Hills…But it’s supposed to be beautiful,” was all I could promise.

Beautiful, indeed.

Though the Ndebele translation of Matobo literally means “bald heads,” Matobo National Park is anything but barren. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, the park’s distinctive landforms are a unique treasure to the African landscape. And its land is the definition of beauty.  Views of two billion year old hills scattered with giant boulders and thickets of flora carry out for miles.

My crazy art loving heart appreciates the experience of awe more than just about any other feeling.  It’s that piece of nature-a feeling of awe- that makes me feel most connected to something divine. A quote that has been stuck on me ever since it I heard it during childhood says it well.   “We know that God is a true artist not only because of the beauty He creates for us to see but by the thousands of flowers that sit on hillsides never touched by human eyes.” Awe inspiring nature like that which I constantly found on our latest African road trip reminded me over and over of the beauty of the earth, created as an ultimate form of art.  Motopos stopped me in my tracks for days and left me feeling connected.  

Spiritual homeland, indeed.

The park houses the resting place of Cecil Rhodes (founder of Rhodesia, and a not-too-popular man in these parts), as well as other memorials and tombs. These are located on the top of a hill called "The View of the World." It was a little climb, but oh, what a view!



Inside of the park are also a number of "rock art" (also known as cave painting) sites.  Here visiting Nswatugi, a remote little trek up a stern hill proved to be well worth it.

The park had numerous dams, all made in part by gorgeous beds of boulders.

 It's easy to forget how big some of these boulders are... pictured above is Kurt and Jonas next to one for scale.

Some fun wildlife in the park, too, but don't be mistaken for a poacher...