On Friday morning I had taken the dirt road from Garies, over Studer’s Pass, into the Rooiberg mountains. A farmer was moving a herd of Afrikaaner cattle up the road so I slowly drove through them till the last were behind me. Just over the top of the pass I came to a small farmhouse in a beautiful valley below a peak that I later learnt was called “Weeskind” which means “Orphan”, because it stands alone. I sat next to the road and painted the farm and the peak. While I was working the farmer drove past and waved. He was working at his gate when some other farmer drove past and I heard him referring to me as “..daardie donder ..” I am not sure how to translate “donder” but it is definitely not polite. Heh heh, anyway -so not everyone in the valley is light and music. Here is the painting:
Later that I day after I had finished the painting at Koornkloof I travelled some really bad roads and then set off on my return to Garies where I wanted to fill up before heading back towards Cape Town. On the way my oil light flashed. I turned off the engine and crawled under the car. There was a hole in my sump, big enough to push my finger in. All my oil was gone and I was about 40kms out of the town. (This is where it happened – check on Google Maps – -30.427916, 18.059807). It was mostly downhill so I set off, freewheeling where I could and using the engine where I had to, fervently praying that it would not seize. I would probably still have been there if that had happened. Once or twice I got out to push over a hump. I also asked at a couple of farms if they could sell me oil but to no avail. Five kms out of town I saw a car pull into a farm just off the road so I pulled in next to it. It was a lady who was visiting the farm from over the road. After a short discussion with the farmer she offered to give me a lift into town where I caught the local mechanic just as he was closing. He gave me some plastic steel and sold me 5 litres of oil.
I cleaned the hole with benzine from my stove and mixed the patch and put it on. I was keen to leave but was persuaded to let the patch cure overnight. The farmer, Basie and his wife, Annette, offered me a bed. And so I spent an evening with locals. It all seemed so calm and gracious. They made me feel comfortable by asking me about what I was doing talking about life on the farm. They gave no advice or recrimination. If they thought I was irresponsible to be out there without ANY spares or tools (note to self…), they didn’t show it. Annette cooked some lamb chops (manaqualanners just eat meat) and we sat around the table and chatted. Basie grew up in the area as did his father. They were keen to see my paintings and, as they said they liked them, I asked if they would accept one from me as a gift. Basie realised the farm in this painting was where his father grew up so they accepted this. And I think this is rather special.
The next morning I got in the dark and headed out under a crisp, starry sky. Just outside Garies I stopped next to the road and made coffee which I drank with rusks as I watched the day dawning.