How To Be Quiet – Unexpected Lessons From Unexpected Guests

| Tamlin Wightman

Island Lodge Dreaming


We are very grateful for this blog and are greatly saddened when the noise of the outside world keeps us from it. Partly because it allows us, as Anaïs Nin wrote, to taste life twice, and partly because it reminds of the little things that bring us joy, the odd ‘aha moment’ that is easy to forget in the flurry of daily life. For instance, the subjects of today’s blog…

Recently, we had two of the quietest guests we’ve ever come across. They arrived in a uniquely quiet week at Royal Chundu – as if they had sensed the stillness of the lodge, even months before when they booked their trip. They stayed with us for just over a week on a birding safari. Sure, birders tend to be a characteristically quieter breed compared to the rest, but there was something special about this couple. They were so quiet that we didn’t know how to entertain them. But therein lay the answer – they didn’t need to be entertained at all.

In the way of the books by Sara Maitland, “How To Be Quiet” and “The Book of Silence”, which highlight the benefits of harnessing inner quiet and seeking external silence, the couple were happily content to just be. They reminded us that enjoyment can be found even when doing very little. They spent their days taking in the river on boat cruises or from their balcony, where they painted watercolour scenes of the view and continued their lookout for the bird life of the Zambezi – counting several new ones to add to their birder’s tick list. They dined slowly, spoke softly. We found ourselves going from asking, “Where are they, what are they doing, are they happy?” to “Why can’t all guests be like this?”

Of course, we love you all, and learn different lessons from each type of traveller, but this particular lesson was one that has stayed with us – it is a lesson in the art of stillness and it’s one perfectly attuned to our calmer reaches of the Zambezi, upstream from the Victoria Falls.


Calm


Here are some of the lessons they taught us


1. Doing less in a day doesn’t mean you achieve less. In fact, sometimes you accomplish much more.


Wise words


2. Silence does not equate boredom. Quite the opposite in fact…

Read more from Sara Maitland in her piece in The Guardian, “Beyond peace and quiet“.


Silence


3. The simplest pleasures so often bring the greatest joys

The novelty of taking a long, hot bath never quite wears off for some people. Royal Chundu takes one of relaxation’s most favoured pastimes and makes it its own. Watching the comings and goings of the Zambezi River is a cherished experience. Doing so at sunset from beneath a blanket of bubble bath at Island Lodge with a bottle of Moët & Chandon within arm’s reach is a surreal experience. – Read more in Relais & Châteaux Africa’s feature on Africa’s best destinations for rejuvenation.


Island Lodge - The best bath in the world


4. Noise and constant activity prevent us from being present


And more detrimental than that… noise can kill us. “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience,”former U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart once said. “Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”


River Lodge


5. Silence is a show of true love


Quiet


“Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.”
― Tarjei Vesaas, The Boat in the Evening


  • Sue Fessey

    So much like my husband & I – we don’t need to be entertained by anything more than what nature provides us with when we are in Africa. The small often unseen things have the most impact. We tend to shy away from accommodations catering to the needy 🙂

    • Royal Chundu

      Like minds 🙂 And the best of travellers, no doubt. Thank you for your comment, Sue. We definitely like to let our guests enjoy the destination, at their own pace and whims. The river wouldn’t want it any other way.