Beauty and the beast: why music and travel can soothe the soul

Posted by Sonya Schoeman on 31 March 2016

Opposites are part of the whole, and musicians are often the best people to bring these together, writes Getaway editor Sonya Schoeman.

God dont never change

Light and Desolation. These are the words a friend of mine is having tattooed like a yoke across his collarbones. When he first told me his intentions, I confess to a mental sigh, but now I’m cheering him on. He has passed 50 and, if there’s a right time to have a tattoo, in my opinion this is it. As a quinquagenarian you’re able to make a solid assessment of life and what it brings – you’re more likely to choose an apt statement to brand yourself with. My friend is an ardent environmentalist and anti-speciest and sartorialist. His assessment (or my interpretation of it): life is beauty and beast.

I do agree with him. Think of the phenomenal innovation that young Dutchman Boyan Slat created to combat plastic pollution in the sea. Not without fault, apparently, but definitely beauty, considering the fact that there are literally floating islands of the stuff. I recently walked The Leopard Trail in the Baviaanskloof, where the creatures it’s named after have been under assault from farmers for decades – beastly. But recently a ban on leopard hunting in South Africa was put in place for 2016, and also beautiful is the fact that the Baviaanskloof has in the last decade become the third largest protected area in the country.

Extremes make good fodder for artists. I can think of two musicians who are exemplary. The first is Nick Cave, who sings amazing tales of love and murder so rich that they can’t fail to ignite the imagination. When a fellow editor felt the colour had begun to leak out of life, she took out her credit card and maxed it on a flight to Canada and a show by this incredible performer. There’s nothing quite like music and the gathering of those who love it all into one space to make you feel happily alive.

My Nick Cave would be the god of wit and blasphemy: Tom Waits. He doesn’t perform much anymore. But when my time of sepia comes, I will max my credit card to hear him growl:

‘I got the style, but not the grace; I got the clothes, but not the face.’

In the meanwhile, this May I’m heading to Swaziland for the MTN Bushfire Festival, a vibrant event to which our Vuyi Qubeka went last year and describes beautifully in her story ‘Music in my Soul’ on page 80. And you and four friends could come too, because we have put together the most fabulous road-trip competition for five readers to this awesome music festival for grown-ups.

I hope you enjoy this issue, which has so many wonderful stories, from the launch of the gorgeous (but tough) Leopard Trail hike (read Walking the Lie, page 72), to Melanie van Zyl and Anton Crone’s testing out of Kruger’s best walking trails (Foot Notes, page 94), as well as our Chris Davies’ trip to awesome Chile, a destination where South Africans will feel right at home (page 86). Because, of course, there’s another way to experience the beauty of life: travel.


More about this month’s contributors

Anton Crone

Anton has a passion for Africa’s wild places and the solutions available for communities that rely on them. Having grown up in Zimbabwe, he couldn’t resist doing a walking trail from Pafuri into his old home country, where conservationists celebrate Shangaan culture (page 96).


Teagan Cunniffe

Teagan wouldn’t have pinned herself as a hiking enthusiast, until the Fish River Canyon changed her perception. Now you’ll find her grimacing in the face of mountains for that perfect photo. See her images of the newly opened Leopard Trail (page 72).


Adriaan Louw

A Cape Town photographer with a well-stamped passport, Adriaan likes nothing better than being in a strange land surrounded by strange things, food and people. During a visit to Djenne in Mali, he discovered a place where time stands still (page 66).

Read about Boyan Slat’s innovation at The Ocean Cleanup Foundation. Or if you want something delightful, download God Don’t Never Change, a tribute to Blind Willie Johnson. You’ll find Tom Waits at his newest there. And if you read Getaway, we want to hear your views. Email us at [email protected].


Read the full story in the April 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.

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