This is my favourite time of the year in South Africa, a month where Public holidays are a dime a dozen, the first quarter of the season is done and the weather is changing, a time to take stock of what has happened and what is going to happen and most importantly, a time to rest. A lot has happened in the last 4 months in my life. The year started off with a research trip to Cape Town’s Groote Schuur hospital for the documentary, the following week I got into a relationship, the week after that a dear friend of mine Lesley Perkes, whom I used to work with, passed away and on the day of her funeral I got hijacked, two weeks after that I travelled to the US for work and a welcome getaway from everything. On my return, the Feminist Stokvel launched with the Hair Soirees, I drove to the Transkei for a really interesting rural development project that I am involved in in a village called Clarkebury, then East London for a traditional family ceremony where I had to slaughter a sheep, brew traditional beer and harvest our family plant (which obviously I didn’t do alone), all this while continuing all my regular work, guest lectures, research, writing and like the rest of you, absorbing everything that has been happening in our country. I am exhausted and as much as I don’t have really have the time, part of the RSCP (Radical Self Care Project) is to schedule time to disengage daily if I can. Oh and I also turned 30 last week 🙂
So it was a welcome decision when my man and I and decided to join our friends, another couple, on a weekend getaway trip to a little town in the Free State called Rosendal two weeks ago. I must admit, when I first heard that the small town is in the Free State, my racism proof vest activated itself in anticipation of a little good old South African racism. One always has to think of these kinds of things when traveling while black. We didn’t organize the trip, the other couple did, so there was no nervous condition about making a booking and being told it’s fully booked, we simply got onto the M2 towards Bloemfontein on Friday afternoon and convoyed behind our friends until we arrived in a dirt road town four hours later.
Rosendal is beautiful. It’s a 100 year old town built in a dirt road grid beside the Maluti mountains surrounded by two small lakes. If I had to choose colours to describe it, I would say it is dusty orange and yellow in Autumn and the land is flat and sparsely populated with houses that have huge yards and that look like they are owned by artists and hipsters from out of town. The architecture of the houses was quite interesting. We stayed in an old stone house that had the feel of an Afrikaans farm house, furnished with all the things you need on holiday including a fireplace, a comfortable porch overlooking the street, and two big bedrooms on wooden floors. The other houses are a mixed bag of stone, wrap around porch white American style country houses, modern container style houses in black and green, and luxury farm houses that look like they are out of the pages of VISI Magazine. The weather was grey and misty and for a moment, we thought we were in the Camargue in France when we saw horses run up to us on a plot of empty land during a morning bike ride.
The trip was too short for us to rid ourselves of our Joburg habit of eating out. Even though we bought supplies like butter, fresh (as in from the cow) milk from the store, a bottle of gin, some eggs, bread and coffee from the local winkel (which was very small towny in the unromantic sense), on Friday night we bought a delicious pasta dinner and a bottle of wine from the only local restaurant and on Sunday morning before we left, ate one of the best breakfasts I have ever had perched on a mountain. We ordered it from the restaurant and it was without a doubt the best home made pork sausage, Eggs Benedict, French Toast and chilli bean mix I have ever had.
We should have stayed longer. I miss the silence of the dawn, the darkness of the night and the fact that in our entire time there, we only saw about 10 people. This is a good place to get away from it all and I look forward to going back again. There’s a really nice Sotho speaking magogo there who rents out bikes. When we went to return them, she called us to the back of her garden and gave us each a pomegranate from her tree, as if we were school children. We drove away picking at the pods of the sweet fruit dreaming of when we would return to buy a plot that we could turn into a writing and artist residency.