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ReportsThursday, 25 October 2001
--> Bredasdorp (SA) 2nd day Pierce Van Der Merwe took a day off work and toured me around their district all day long, of course visiting the southernmost tip of the African continent.
I stayed another day with the Van Der Merwe family in Bredasdorp, as they desperately begged for more time with me. They really did not want to have me leave again as there would be so much to see in this area.
So after a breakfast with Pierce, he took me along. First to say Hi to Nelmarie, who was already working in her craftshop, where Pierce got a load of things for on the road.
From Bredasdorp Pierce drove me through endless fields of dry farmland and slowly sightsee-ed through the old fishermen village Arniston (or Waenhuuskrans) where the cottages of the early settlers are still habited.
From Arniston we drove through the farmlands again, sometimes even through somebody’s farmland on dusty unpaved roads, towards Struisbaai. The name for this town origins as it is located in the district of the ostrich (Struisvoël in Afrikaans).
Struisbaai is one of the South Cape's best kept secrets. The small, picturesque coastal village boasts the longest white coastline in the southern hemisphere (unspoiled for 17.5 km!), ideal for safe bathing, boating and watersports. But definitely not today as the wind was blowing hard from the sea.
But we enjoyed driving around this area and were amazed by the architectural disasters that grow here in weeks, as Struisbaai is also a very popular holiday destination with the most ugly holiday homes. I mean, if you want to live in a cage, go find one. But just don’t built one!
But Struisbaai is located only one kilometer from Cape L’Agulhas and that was something I had been looking forward to.
Why? Cape L'Agulhas is the southernmost point in Africa. And then I mean, the southernmost point of the entire African continent! And of course, it has always had its mysteries and adventure, and still captures the imagination of contemporary explorers.
At the end of the 15th century the early Portuguese seafarers christened this tip Cabo das Agulhas[/b] which means "Cape of Needles" and refers to the needle of the compass which at this point shows no real deviation between true north and magnetic north. A truly magic and desolate place though, where I began to understand the difficulties the early seafarers faced.
Amongst the mysteries, is the legendary [i]Cape of Storms which wrecked many ships en route to the east via Cape L’Agulhas. Since the Portuguese navigators of the 15th century, more than130 vessels (!) have succumbed to this Graveyard of Ships.
A Dutch East Indiaman carrying wounded British soldiers, wives and children, back from the war in Ceylon (current Sri Lanka), splintered on the reefs in 1815. Only six of the 370 passengers survived. And the ship’s name? Arniston...
And, as determined by the International Hydrographic Organisation, the two mighty oceans - Indian and Atlantic - meet at this exact tip of the continent. Nelmarie gave me a little glass bottle and I filled it up with this excellent mix of both oceans. I hope I can take it along with me along my entire journey around the world.
After a long break at the tip (just watching the waves from the inside of the car and listening to the radio; almost medicating), Pierce treated me on a double cheese burger for lunch in a see side restaurant in Struisbaai.
It is funny to see how every sign in this regions mentions the southernmost... in front of its name. We passed the southernmost café, the southernmost gas station, the southernmost flowershop, the southernmost hotel, etcetera etcetera. In Struisbaai the fun was getting to much for me...
We then had our long drive back to Bredasdorp and even met up with the speed of a toitois walking across the road for a few minutes.
Back in the hometown of the Van Der Merwe’s Pierce now took me along to the Shipwreck Museum and the local candle factory.
The Kapula Candles factory is what most people in Bredasdorp are very proud of. It once started as a single-person business when a lady started making candles and painted them in her garage. Very soon everybody knew the candle lady and suddenly the whole country started to order at her little shop. The business grew out to a big three building factory complex in the outskirts of Bredasdorp and now offers good employment to over 200 people.
Pierce and I were given a quick tour through the factory and saw how everything was still very hand-produced. The hot wax was poured into their shape and different colors of wax were used for the differences in candles. When the wax is hardened, they get cleaned and prepared for the paint-process in the other building.
And that is where everybody has a little warm oven with different colors of wax and they brush the wax on it with a paint brush or a sponge. It is unbelievable how they paint a candle in ten seconds and they produce thousands of candles a day.
And everything goes by hand, even the single wrapping of each candle. When we were there the people were mass-producing Valentine-candles for the American market. So if you see red candles at Woolworths with hand-painted white hearts on them, next year, think of this factory in South Africa.
After the visit to the factory Pierce drove me back to his home. After this long tour, an afternoon nap was really necessary. It’s sometimes very hard to process so much information I had heard and sights I had to process, especially as my travels go on and on. That’s my excuse for all my napping during the day time. But at least it keeps me sharp.
When I woke up again, a few hours later, Nelmarie treated me on [i]boboti for dinner. It is minced meat with egg and the plate was filled up with a mix of rice and corn and sweet potatoes. Mum, this really was a nice dish!
The rest of the night was mostly spent online on Nelmarie’s computer, but around midnight I went to bed with a terrible headache. And I blame the easing sunburn on my head for that. Fortunately sleeps eases everything...
Good night Bredasdorp!
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