No-one chooses to move to silence and small towns, rather plans to escape from them, as I did. Life disaster or getting under the radar had to be the reason. And I envy him now. A traffic jam means sheep wandering across the road.
The value of country towns as tourist venues have soared over the past decade. Magazines are now dedicated to Country getaways; sport and hunting trails, the discovery of the calmer side of life.
Local, wholesome fare from restaurants with names such as Oep de Koep, De Veldskoen, Gaaitjie and many more. History lies on the shoreline. Battlefields now look serene. There is so much to experience, both physically and spiritually, follow the artists who seek inspiration or challenge yourself to a race.
Part of my renewed ambition to discover more of the rural South Africa is because I know so little about it. Brought up in a small town, it was the city life for me, and now in London, I crave the earthiness of genuine ‘kuier’ mense and home-grown whatever.
Homegrown gardens, big verandas, massive farmhouse kitchens. Vegetable patches and fruit trees in the back yard. Home made jams and Karoo lamb. I need the dirt road, the story of Moshesh. Moer koffie.
In between the Nespresso and city offerings, the hustle and frantic pace, my next holiday is going to be an expedition – not quite the camping in the Kgaligadi with a spade for a toilet yet – but a tour of the smaller towns, one province at a time. Sounds blissful.
Next time you have time in the Cape, stretch the wings a little to visit dear places like Struisbaai and Swellendam. All within a day’s drive but there are many superb Guest Houses for a night of overnight charm. As well as Franschoek, say hi to Paarl, or Malmesbury. Try the Midlands of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Drakensberg. Clarens charms in the Free State, and then we have glorious places to visit in Mpumulanga.
Tracing the lines between these smaller gems of towns, in grassland, forest, vineland and coast – I am sure I am closer to going home. As for my friend, turns out he knew something before we all did, got the house at a steal and now the properties have escalated due to popular discovery. Not wanted, just wanting the genuine people, and God’s artwork around him in the morning.