Words and Photographs by Chris Marais
Ten days on the road, showing Karoo Keepsakes II off to half a dozen towns in the Eastern and Northern Cape, and I can’t wait.
Today it’s all about preparation and packing. Are the camera batteries charged? Does the 70-200 lens come along? How wide are we shooting? Jules, have you packed the whisky?
We also pack for our German Shepherd, TwoPack, who goes across the road to the Schulze family, where his parents, Shadow and Roxy, live. This is TwoPack’s second home (hence the name – two packs) and we need to collect his dog blankets and Montego kibbles and ship them over before we leave.
We’re not only going to be smousing (selling) our new book, Karoo Keepsakes II, but we’re also covering the Williston Winter Festival and doing a whole bunch of travel and lifestyle stories along the way.
In its first month of release, Karoo Keepsakes II has done us proud. Its first launch was at the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival in Cradock – our chatty little slide show went down well and sales were excellent.
The rest of the month was spent shipping books out in bulk to our shops all over the Karoo, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Jules also had to dispatch a lot of ‘singles’ out to people who had ordered via this very Karoo Space website. The very first Karoo Space order came from Jacobus Pelcher who lives in, wait for it, Alice Springs in Australia. Outback-to-Outback communication. I love it.
First stop on this trip is just over the Wapadsberg Pass: Graaff-Reinet, Gem of the Karoo. We’re being hosted by David McNaughton and his family (Karoo Connections – McNaughton’s Bookshop), and I hear the slide show will be well attended.
On Thursday we head west to Die Rooi Granaat Restaurant in Loxton, where we normally drop off stock with Tannie Wilna Bruwer. She takes books on consignment (a rare concession from us, and only because of her charm) and keeps our money in a little bank baggie. We see her once a year in passing and have come to regard the contents of that bank baggie as diesel money for the trip.
Tannie Wilna has sold the restaurant, but has promised to meet us there with our bank baggie and introduce us to the new owners. Cool.
Then we scoot off to Williston, drink a lime milkshake (or a cold beer) with Pieter and Elmarie Naude of Die Williston Mall, find our digs and prepare for our favourite festival. There’s also a cheese-making outfit to be visited sometime over the weekend.
On Sunday we head off to Calvinia to stay with the Junkyard Jivers, Dirk and Sonya van Rensburg, paying a visit to Alta Coetzee of Die Hantam Huis as well. Expect much raucous guitar playing, a blizzard of pinotage corks, some classic stories and a visit to what they call ‘that hippy farm stall’ somewhere on the Ceres Karoo road.
Wednesday night sees us hundreds of klicks north of Calvinia in the little village of Brandvlei, doing a story on Jackie Farrell’s new guest house called Casablanca. Brandvlei is one of the outposts of the Karoo, and Jackie is one of its most interesting characters. Can’t wait to see how she’s done up her place.
Thursday night is Blikkies Bar Night. We’re booked in at the Carnarvon Hotel, home of one of the jazziest bars in the Karoo, where many hundreds of tin cans line the walls.
We’re also going to visit with Oom Leon Swanepoel, the Water Doctor of the Karoo, and give him a signed copy of Karoo Keepsakes II. He features in the book as an expert windpump and groundwater man.
Next Friday, after 10 days on the road, we head home to Cradock. Or do we? Perhaps we’ll stop over in Graaff-Reinet with the McNaughtons once more, and pound their ears with stories from the road.
- We’ll be sending in regular blogs as we cross the Karoo on this trip. Watch this Karoo Space…