Forsaken beauty

2011-11-04 08:22

It felt quite strange not being able to see a fellow darkie for more than two days within the borders of this rainbow nation. And when I did get to see and talk to one, he was drenched in sweat, digging illegally for diamonds on an abandoned mine.

You see, this Namaqualand is very different from the Mzansi I’ve come to know in a decade and a half of travelling across the nine provinces. In fact, I began wondering if I hadn’t perhaps crossed over into another unknown country by mistake.

But with its wide open, shrub-dotted landscape that rides into spectacular rocky mountains in some parts, it is just beautiful.
It has a rich history of the Nama people, who moved from the southern Cape following the arrival of the first white settlers, and made a home in this semi-arid land.

There isn’t much to see in these parts except, of course, the beautiful landscape and warm people. Be warned, the old people here like telling a good story. Not many come here, except those who pass through on their way to the Atlantic Ocean coastal towns of Kleinzee, Port Nolloth, Hondeklipbaai and Namibia.

For a few weeks in spring, the colourful daisies draw visitors from far and wide, but they seem to disappear just as quickly as the flowers do.

Most of the towns, like Gariep, are sparsely populated and have that time-forgotten, almost Wild West movie feel about them – one street, old buildings, old roads and even older people.

We stayed in Springbok, a quaint little town with no traffic to speak of. Pity I didn’t see any springboks there; just people staring curiously at me, perhaps wondering if I wasn’t a springbok that had evolved?

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