African shoestrings – South Africa Day Fourty – Stellenbosch

The following day we ‘jumped ship’ and found a little apartment just out of town.
Not that there was anything wrong with the Stumble Inn, it was just the noise from the other ‘guests’.
I’d like to think that we haven’t we’ve lost touch with modern music but the repeated thumping of ‘techno’ music is not the best bedtime music as far as we were concerned.
A young guy, John also from Perth, who was travelling around on his own, shared this opinion. In staying in the dorm, he was in a worse position than us and was getting fed up with being constantly disturbed as his fellow bedmates stumbled in and out of bed.
Never really gave that much thought before. As a couple we always got a private room and had drawn a line in sleeping in a dorm. But anyone on their own is pretty well damned if they want privacy. They either pay more than double the cost for a double room (they are often more expensive per person than a dorm) or put up with sleeping in the same room as a load of strangers, have no privacy and in some circumstances be permanently on guard watching their belongings.

Anyway we had enough of the Stumble Inn, we had lasted two nights, and for just a few more Rand we had a nice cosy little place tagged on onto someone’s house called “Kaveeltjie”. That someone was Gertie an extremely helpful and warm housewife with a couple of youngish kids. She picked us up at the tourist office in town and couldn’t do enough for us.

One of the fascinating things about South Africa is the white Afrikaners. Most of these are descended from the original Dutch, German and French settlers and have been in South Africa since the seventeenth century. This is different from the whites of British heritage that have only been around since the nineteenth century. That in itself is interesting but what really fascinates me is that when you meet the Afrikaners is their own country they are totally different from your expectations. After all this is a race that is responsible for apartheid. A lot of these expectations are based on the media and those you meet in Australia who have left the country for good.
Well we found them to be kind, friendly, warm and honest people. You almost get the feeling that they would give their lives for you. A lot of that comes from their strong religious beliefs, but I’ve met plenty of religious people over the years who will hardly acknowledge your existence let alone help you out in tight corner.
These people also have an amazing attachment to their language, which for most of them is their first language, with English being used only whenever it’s really necessary.
One particular lady we met on our first visit, actually pitied us for not being able to speak Afrikaans, saying it was such a shame that we were unable to use words that there was no equivalent for in English to describe the world around. At the time I wasn’t that convinced. But the more of these people I met the more I think there must be something in it. So many actually struggle to translate certain words from Afrikaans to English which tends to surprise as their English is usually so fluent.

Any way Gertie fitted this mould, and was happy to give us a few pointers for our future travels and expeditions.

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A Gemsbok in the Kalahari national park in South Africa

A Gemsbok in the Kalahari national park in South Africa

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