On a recent trip to Cape Town, I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of a South African road trip. We travelled on ruler straight sections of road, interspersed with segments that wound themselves past endless electricity pylons and numerous rusty windmills. The scenery included various smaller mountain ranges resembling gnomes’ faces covered in grotesque warts. The overwhelming shades of colour that surrounded us all the way, brought back memories of a box of wax crayons missing all the bright colours. Dull shades of browns, greens and beiges painted the landscape most of the way.
Church steeples elegantly towered over rustic buildings in farming towns and the recent drought left tragic ruins in its wake. Empty schools longed for happy young voices and bright new coats of paint. Patient donkeys loyally transported goods and people from one dusty town to another. Years of hard labour etched on the faces of their owners. Life in these rural towns is slow and without modern amenities.
Yet more mountain rages came into view. With a little imagination, I saw women’s breasts, an elephant lying on his stomach and cakes eagerly waiting to be layered with icing. When boredom set in, I counted windmills and as my concentration peaked, sacred graveyards came into view. The gravestones made me wonder about rival families and questions of loss and sadness, and the survival of man.
As the journey continued, green and white information signs flashed by, recalling many chapters of our South African history. Towns and places named by Dutch, German, French and British settlers, gave rise to areas called Welgegund, Platdoorns, Renosterkop, Lemoenfontein, Loxton, Carnarvon and Franschhoek. The little town of Leeu-Gamka in the Karoo, established in 1879 is 355 kilometers northeast of Cape Town and has an interesting history. The name originated from the junction of the Leeu and Gamka Rivers and both translate to ‘Lion’ in Afrikaans and IXam, a Khoisan language of South Africa. This little town came into being when the Prime Minister for the Cape Government Railways’ chose a western railway line from Cape Town, to run to the meeting point of the Leeu and Gamka Rivers. A small town grew around the station and in 1896, a church and a school opened. A hotel was added in 1898. Originally known as ‘Fraserburg Road’, this siding was eventually renamed ‘Leeu-Gamka’ in 1950. I am always fascinated by how our towns got their names in South Africa.
Our journey continued to the smooth sounds of Amy Grant and Ronan Keating…. country sounds and saxophone solos. Some of my favourite music accompanied me and lifted my spirits as we negotiated the long road and adhered to warning signs as they flashed by. These signs got me thinking. They are all there for a reason, for the safety of the road users. How often do we sense warnings in our journey through life? Do we take heed and rethink our future choices or simply ignore them and face the consequences? I often wish that I had taken notice of all the warnings that flashed past along my journey… but then; perhaps I wouldn’t have learnt my valuable lessons along the way.
This relaxing road trip reminded me of all the things that I have to be grateful for and that even when things look bleak and impossible in my little world and in my country, there is ALWAYS new hope and opportunity around the next bend in the road. Sometimes the road is straight as a ruler or winding around tight bends but there is always something amazing there to catch my eye.
Enjoy your journey…..
Photographs courtesy of Google Images