Chris Marais – The Journey Man
I’ve been a wanderer and a storyteller all my life.
Ever since I was shipwrecked off Inhaca Island, Mozambique, at the tender age of six, my threescore years have been peppered with adventure, rock ‘n roll and some of the finest road companions a man could ever have.
I’ve worked in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Bataar, deep in the jungles of both Borneos and in the old days of Hillbrow, on the newspaper night shift. I sometimes feel I could name-drop strange places and exotic faces all night long.
But no thrill, no travelling buddy, no place on Earth can beat driving through the dawn in the Karoo with my wife Jules in the seat of the old bakkie right there, next to me.
Right behind me, nestled on the back seat, are my old Canon cameras and their designated lenses. Next to them sits the padkos box and, in the deep of winter, two invaluable Pep Stores mega-blankets.
At the back paces a very excited long-haired German Shepherd called TwoPack. He often comes with us on our assignments deep into the Karoo. When he can’t make it, TwoPack is across the road from our house in Cradock, yapping away in the company of Shadow and Roxy, his parents.
Jules and I meet the Karoo as we travel: the people, the history, the conflict, the lifestyle, the culture and the various clans who have come to live in this magical semi-desert.
We collect their stories for Country Life Magazine, for our various books on the Karoo, for this Karoo Space website and for posterity. I think we’re very lucky to be on this journey. Let’s hope the road goes on for a long time yet.
Julienne du Toit – Writing the Karoo
I am suddenly the possessor of obscure skills.
- Create a meal out of unlikely ingredients, preferably in one pot;
- Devise a way of getting a bat, bird or spider out of a house;
- Speak Graaffrikaans fluently;
- Remember the names of donkeys we met years ago;
- Fall asleep anywhere;
- Feel blissfully happy if a glass of wine and stoep coincide at sunset;
- Can recognise the various makes of windpumps from a fair distance.
These are talents I’ve developed over ten years spent tracking back and forth over the Karoo, staying in countless self-cater chalets and lonely farmhouses.
Thriving as a freelancer in the Karoo is not only about being a wordsmith.
Before I fell headlong in love with the space and silence of the Karoo, I spent a year in Chile, worked at The Star newspaper, developed a passion for the environment, and started a magazine on the subject called Keeping Track.
But my happiest years have been since I discovered Chris Marais (now my husband) in 1995 and the Karoo in 2003. And TwoPack in 2008.