By Julienne du Toit
Photos by Chris Marais
In Road Tripper Eastern Cape Karoo, there are 46 pages where a distinctive little passport-like stamp appears.
In the book, there is only one little clue to its function.
We write: “If you’ve enjoyed a certain pub, a padstal or a farmstay, get your host to sign the relevant page in the book. Warning: there could be unexpected gifts in the offing, especially from those who have stamped pages.”
The stamp was inspired by two things: the innate kindness and hospitality of Eastern Cape Karoo people, and the Camino de Santiago de Compostela which encourages pilgrims to have a little book signed as they walk the long path.
The way our book works is quite simple. If you spend some money in one of the places that appears with a Road Tripper stamp, and if you approach the owner or manager to sign that page, you might receive a gift.
The gift itself can take various forms, but since this is the food-obsessed Karoo, it will probably be edible. Stay at a farm and you might receive an apple crumble, or a lovely bottle of wine, a pie or a brace of lamb chops. At a padstal or restaurant, you might get a free glass of homemade lemonade, a length of droewors, a complimentary cappuccino, a few koeksisters for dessert, or some roosterkoek for the road. At a pub, you might get a free beer or a shooter.
There might be a bag of freshly picked fruit from the garden, or a discount on your bill. Maybe a little pot with a sprig of spekboom, a jar of homemade jam, a bumper sticker, a few postcards or something random, like a horseshoe or a pretty stone. Perhaps just a hug.
In effect, the signed book ends up as a memento that evokes great memories of a journey and encounters with wonderful people along the way.
The Stamp destinations vary wildly. Some are easy to find, along the main roads of prominent Karoo towns. But if you want all of them signed, you’ll sometimes have to venture far off the beaten track.
And isn’t that the basis of every good road trip?