Diary of a Roadtripper Howzit South Africa #NieuBethesda

I think road tripping is like being contained in a gas can,  once it pops open,  everything inside flies out in a different directions. This is what it felt like when we drove into Nieu Bethesda!

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Wide eyed and with a new inspiration we entered the town, like kids stuck to a window and wishing they could go out and play….
A field of yellow flowers, the first to capture our imagination.
A dusty road
One block of buildings, Ok, maybe two…
Around the block,  park and disperse
A deep breath,  so what to do first?
Visit an Owl house of course!

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Miss Helen Martins.
How one person can capture an individuals mind and leave it completely puzzled by her behaviour.
Trying to understand her perspective,  her pain and her art, while watching individuals respond to her glass and stone “mecca”  left me completely enamoured.  There is almost  a sadness as you wander through the remanence of her life, but not without a fascination…
A must see

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Down a dusty road ,  around a corner and you stumble upon our own pre jurassic park.  Who could have known that there wasn’t one, but two Nieu-Bethesdians that would be famous for their work.
James Kitching!
Some of the oldest fossil in the world was found right here in town by this world renowned paleontologists and his fossil centre will give you a glimpse of what is was like in the Karoo about 250 million years ago.

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Next…
Dusty road,  and intersting stop,  a story,  a shop
Listening to people’s lives of where they come from and why they chose Nieu-Bethesda?

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It’s a town that gathers and disperses with the ebb and flow of life while quietly lying at the foothill of the Compassberg and a dry river named Gats…..
I’ll return one day to listen to the rest of the whisperings
But for now it needs to be left behind,  however, not until we have played among the yellow pollen of veld flowers

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Up a pass,  down a hill,  farm,  windmill,  sheep,  the landscape changes,  golden grass and a river of orange….

www.nieu-bethesda.com
#meetsouthafrica roadtrip sponsored by SA Tourism

Diary of a Roadtripper, Howzit South Africa – #GraaffReinet

Why not hit the road and try and get lost,  thumb suck a few routes and really just explore the possibility of taking the road that might not take you where you want to go, but the one that leaves you in awe of discovering a different landscape,  a lost little town or other people with stories of their own,  everyone seems to have a forgotten past and a dreamy future.  If you approach life at a different angle,  especially when travelling,  with no expectations, it is amazing what you can find. 

One of the reasons I love travelling by road in South Africa is the vast spaces in between cities,  because once you leave them you realise that we have a huge diversity in this country.  On this particular trip it went something like this :

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"capturing a sunset on roadtrip is like drinking a cocktail and actually enjoying it!"

Leaving Jhb – Gold,  mielie fields,  mining,  more mielies,  sunflowers,  soft golden grass on rolling hills, windmills,  Karoo,  sheep,  more sheep,  hills,  passes…. Destination
Graaff Reinet.
What do I think about Graaff Reinet ;
I think park your car,  stay if you have to,  no actually stay… Get out there and start walking and if you are done in 3 days I will be surprised.  Boasting with so much history, culture, food, biodiversity and you keep discovering more behind every corner. It is literally hard to capture Graaff Reinet in one visit, let alone in one day. I think I could spend a week in this town and I still won’t be able to tell you what it’s all about.
A little insight:
Lagerst cactus nursery
Cultural walks
Historical buildings
Karoo slow food

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Take your time here,  the pace is of another era and if you are really an explorer you might discover more than you were looking for, a little something that might link you to this place’s past.

Back in the car,  out of town,  along a dam,  through a gate,  up a hill, destination:
Cambedoo National Park,  also known as the Valley of Desolation!
I think I am in love
I stand on top of the world looking down over the spaces,  peaks,  rock formations. Nature has a way of capturing your imagination, and all I can think of is;  I want to come back here,  and I have not even left yet!
My first experience was late afternoon to sunset,  when the earth cools down,  the colours turn warm until it surrenders itself to darkness.  Breathtakingly beautiful…..

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Back in the car,  down the hill,  through a gate….
Just to return the next morning, and if you think sunset here is beautiful, try Sunrise! The first sight of soft clouds blanketing the town of Graaff Reinet and rocky peaks trying to push their way through the cloudbase is quite phenomenal,  but when the sun breaks through to cast its rays over it all, be ready to be left in awe,  no where in all my travels have I experienced a sight like this!

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"The sun starting to break through the clouds"
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"Sunrise over the Valley of Desolation"

We left Graaff Reinet in a daze… And I sat thinking about the morning and taking it all in,  trying to store every corner of my memory bank with these images.  I’ll never forget..
So,  up a pass, down a pass, around a corner,  karoo bushes,  sheep,  view point on to our next stop…..

For more information follow the link below.
www.graaffreinet.co.za
#meetsouthafrica roadtrip sponsored by SA Tourism

In the Footsteps of a Makoti

In the footsteps of a Makoti – the Xhosa bride

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When I was asked by Lizel my tour guide to partake in this very traditional cultural ritual, which was part of the cultural walk in the Graaff-Reinet Township called Umasizakhe, it sounded like fun and I liked the idea of getting dressed up and being part of a wedding ritual, but one never realises that this is a very personal experience for a young Xhosa woman.

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I stepped into the private bedroom of Susan and was dressed by Catherine, who is known to her family in law as “Nothembile” the one who we have faith in, and the reality dawned on me. As she narrated, in her soft-spoken voice of the things you should know as a Xhosa woman prior to marrying into a Xhosa man’s family, and the expectation and dynamics of delicate do’s and don’ts of what you should and shouldn’t do, how you should behave as a proposed women left me pretty apprehensive and relieved that I am not part of this conservative culture, I had this eerie feeling that I might have been kicked out and isolated for being a rebel as a Xhosa women.

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But Catherine’s voice came across calm as she gently explained each of the items I was dressed in, and the placing of each garment on one’s body, the couth and kempt manner of this young woman is held in very high regard and is ultimately what establishes her relationship with her husband’s family.

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Catherine spoke about her personal experience as a young woman and I was blown away by her gentle strength and her story of how she crept into the hearts of her family-in-law and winning them over, for these bonds can set your for life or destroy you.

I was eventually dressed, in what felt like 300 blankets and my face covered and the feeling of wanting want to break out and run away screaming, as it is pretty stifling under all the coverings, they coaxed me gently  towards my potential groom along with another women as a decoy, I think, something like Jacob in the story of Rachel and Leah in the bible, the groom had to choose between the brides,  fancy that!

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Lo and behold I was not chosen, the gods must have known that I was trouble. The reveal of the other women left cries of laughter and disappointment and I had a good chuckle under the blankets.
But the ritual had to continue and I was placed on a mat in their church building,  with gifts that were offered to my family as part of the Labola, and a young Xhosa girl came to stand in front of me to announce my new name given to me by my adopted family “Nothembile” (I know, it was stolen from Catherine, but it was appropriated for the moment)

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My face was now ready to be revealed and the black “doek” that covered my face and hair was now neatly tied back in the nape of my neck. Proudly I stood up and took a seat among the other women of the community, And suddenly I felt so part of them, and there was a feeling of acceptance. What a surreal experience, if you would like to understand other peoples lives and their ground roots I would recommend standing in their footsteps, even if it is only for a moment, as my travel companion Kenny said to me, “The more you want to learn about others, the more you learn about yourself”

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Thank you Graaff-Reinet for this great initiative, this is a true way to discover a townships and peoples lives.

For  more information have a look at their website
www.karooheartland.com
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