South Africa 20 September: Cathedral Peak Area
Drakensberg - Peace Park Dedication
Today began with an early morning swim at the Park Rynie tidal pool. It was a beautiful morning and a glorious swim was enjoyed by all.
After leaving Park Rynie on the South Coast - our home for the previous two nights - we had a 3.5 hour drive to Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Central Drakensberg for a special ceremony rededicating the Maloti-Drakensberg Park as an International Peace Park as part of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms Programme.
The Park was originally dedicated by the then Natal Parks Board in January 1996, but a plaque acknowledging the dedication was never erected. It has long been the dream of Peace Runners and brothers, Balarka and Abhijatri Robinson, to erect a formal plaque for the Park and today, thanks to the enthusiastic support of Cathedral Peak Hotel, that dream was realised.
The Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms is a family of beautiful, significant and inspiring sites around the world that have been dedicated to the cause of peace. It includes the Victoria Falls, the Matterhorn, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Taj Mahal and Lake Baikal.
The programme began with Balarka giving an introduction to the project and some background on the Peace Blossoms programme.
Abhijatri then talked about the Southern Hemisphere Peace Run and our goal this year to visit all 44 countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
Byron van der Riet and his wife Samantha are third and second from the left, respectively. Byron is the son of William van der Riet, who is the owner of Cathedral Peak Hotel together with his wife Belinda.
The team then sang the Peace Run song followed by "A New World of Peace", which was sung by Florbela, Penny and Stacey.
Abhijatri then presented Samantha and Byron van der Riet with a Jharna Kala artwork by the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy, as well as beautiful book of his poems and aphorisms.
Abhijatri expressed the sincere gratitude of both the local Peace Run team and the worldwide team to Cathedral Peak Hotel for their significant contribution to peace. He talked about the unique and caring way in which the hotel is run and how much people need places like the Maloti-Drakensberg Park to recover from the stresses of city life.
Balarka also talked about his experiences hiking in the mountains around the hotel and how important this sanctuary is to him personally for his spiritual and mental wellbeing.
The last item on the programme was for everyone to hold the Peace Torch. Here, the Cathedral Peak Hotel team hold the Peace Torch together.
After the ceremony we had the opportunity to do a small Peace Run within the property of the hotel. Some members of our team had not come prepared for the hot and sunny weather, but Florbela soon found that Mother Nature had amply provided for her needs.
It was a hot, dry day but we were all full of peace and joy after the ceremony and were happy to run.
In this photo the team is running back towards the hotel where the plaque can be seen next to the large green tree in the centre of the image.
We then went back to the hotel to enjoy the legendary scones with cream, cheese and jam, something that has become a tradition for the South African members of the team after their multiday hiking trips in the mountains.
However, much to our surprise and delight, we were soon ushered into the dining room by Assistant General Manager, Mr Rhine (seen here at left) who said that the hotel would be honored to receive us as guests for lunch.
The Peace Torch created quite a stir and many of the guests were delighted to hear about the Torch and have a chance to offer their blessings and goodwill for peace.
Thank you Cathedral Peak Hotel for this generous and wonderful gesture. It will be a day we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Before leaving we had a chance to hold the Peace Torch with Victoria, one of the hotel members of staff who was very happy to have the chance to hold the Torch with us.
We also thanked Samantha and Byron one last time and presented them with a Certificate of Appreciation from the global Peace Run Team, as well as a copy of Sri Chinmoy's Heart Garden book for the hotel library.
From Cathedral Peak Hotel it was a short drive to Monk's Cowl campsite where we set up our tents for a beautiful night under the stars.
Thank you Cathedral Peak Hotel for joining us in this significant and inspiring project. We do hope that many people will find joy and inspiration from the Peace Blossom plaque and that it will endure for many years.