Leaving Bloemfontein in the Free State, the little green Suzuki Alto drove into what seemed a desertification. After the glittering fields of the day before, the endless vistas ahead were bleak, bleached, literally blanched. It seemed as if the whole area, including the Northern Cape, had suffered from a combination of geological and human evisceration, an emptying out. Homesteads ghostly, crumbling and deserted, seemed to stare out at the passing cars, vacant with loss, poignant with history, nothing left but the whisper of buildings, a pointing to what once was. The living creatures seemed sad, gathering in small groups, thin and hungry looking. I felt so moved and sad as we drove on, an overpowering sense of yawing fatigue took over me. We almost missed Graaff-Reinet, since Google Maps pointed to a way which would have added on hours to the journey. It was a kind of time warp space, what should have taken 4 hours took 6.
Finally we arrived by way of a major detour, at Heather’s Guest House. There we met Heather and Barry, a most delightful couple. Their motto: “Arrive as a stranger, leave as a friend, return as a regular” certainly rings very true. Warm and inviting, not only as people, but also their home and the Fig Tree Cottage where we stayed. As I stepped through the front door of their home, I was transported to another time, another place. To the Karoo farms I visited as a child, the homey feel of the place, the lamps, the “voorkamer”, (I could almost hear the milk machine “ting tinging” in the dark). The “voorkamer” even had the ladies sitting, doing their needlework, amidst crochet blankets, beautiful old porcelain dolls, patchwork, doilies and all manner of goodies from yesteryear. Barry whispered conspiratorially later, that they were all gossiping. What a lovely but brief stay this was. I would recommend Heather’s to anyone wanting to visit Graaff-Reinet a lovely, very pretty little town, with so much to see and do. Below is an image of Fig Tree Cottage and the other is the church in the centre of town, opposite where we ate that evening.
Top image from Gratisphotogrpahy
Photos taken by Carol Knox.