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Reports

Friday, 26 October 2001
Bredasdorp --> Brakkefontein (SA)

I stay with the Steffen family on their Carrie B Farm in Brakkefontein. Their farm is actually a ostrich nursery where they take care of one-day-old ostrich chickens until their 4th month.
Pierce Van Der Merwe woke me up this second morning in Bredasdorp around 9 with a cup of coffee. I had a shower and it would be a relaxing morning. While Pierce ran off and on for his carpet cleaning, I used his computer for some writing.

Pierce is busy creating a website with all the kitchen magnets that are available from the craft shop and asked me for his advice. It was a frame-based website which I am not always fond of, but with their huge collection of blanks and magnets it worked out pretty fine. We discussed about how things could be better to let people order the products online and pretty much satisfied Pierce with my ideas.

With not much to do for the afternoon, he offered me to take me all the way to my next destination. The weather had changed into light showers and the sun was somewhere far away. He didn’t really feel good about leaving me on a road to hitchhike the 90km to Brakkefontein, a very small hamlet near Vleesbaai (Meatbay in English), south of Mosselbaai.

Around 3pm I loaded my backpack in the back of his car and we drove all the way through rain and mist towards a petrol station, where my next host would pick me up pretty soon. Along the road we passed the 65 meters bridge jump station, where unfortunately nobody was around to help me a possible sponsored (?) jump down the bridge.

Pierce is very fearful about bungee jumping, but I would just do it and go.

At the petrol station, I said goodbye to Pierce and thanked him for the pleasant two days stay at their home in Bredasdorp. It was an interesting experience and he had taken me around the complete area. I am welcome to come back anytime if I would be around.

Just fifteen minutes of waiting later, I met up with Anthony Steffen, the brother of Wendy Nillson who had invited me. He drove me to their farm in Brakkefontein and in the car we talk about my way of traveling and the travels he had made in his life.

He once was a cook on luxury yachts and that job took him all over the world, sailing along all kinds of fancy resorts. That’s a very interesting way to travel around too!

Wendy Nillson and Anthony are the children of good old James Steffen, whose great-great-greatparents were from Germany. Wendy’s surname Nillson origins from her previous marriage. James was very interested in my way of travels as that wasn’t possible to do in the good old days.

Their Carrie B Farm in Brakkefontein is a so-called ostrich-nursery, where the family fosters one-day-old ostrich chickens until they are strong enough to survive at an age of three months.

Ostrich chickens are very feeble when they are young; they need a lot of care in their first months. A slight cold or bad hygiene conditions can already kill the little bird.

Just after arriving at the farm, Anthony showed me his house, where I’d be staying for the night and took me around the farm to show me how they raise the young ostrich chickens.

Ostriches are the world’s biggest birds and they are unable to fly. Male ostriches can reach a height of about 2,4 meters and weigh up to 135 kilograms. Running through the fields they can catch a speed of 50km/hr over a short distance.

The entire area I am staying today and tomorrow is known for its ostrich population. They cover 70% of the world’s ostrich population here and a lot of surrounding towns rely on the farming market.

After three months the Steffen family sells the young birds to big farms in the neighborhood where they will be raised until their 12th month. Then the ostrich is full-grown for the slaughter. In this area ostriches are very delicate for their meat and their skin (very expensive leather).

But just to have some extra income, Wendy runs a business in promotional material and she produces the Back-2-Back-bag, which is a handy Christmas present for big companies as it can fit 12 cans of beer and two bottles of wine. And that business is running very good.

As Wendy was preparing dinner, I used her Internet connection in the office building on the farm. In normal weather I could be able to see the ocean from this point, but today the farm was covered in clouds. Sight was only some 30 meters.

Wendy had made me Indonesian nasi goring with Thai ingredients and sates and that was a real treat as it had been a long time ago since I ate nasi.

During dinner James told me about his recent travel through Europe and he enjoyed Italy and Holland. He had never been ‘overseas’ before and it was interesting to hear how he experienced his fully organized travels.

After dinner James enjoyed his daily glass of whisky while the rest was drinking South African red wine.

When the family headed to their beds, I spent another hour on their computer finishing my report and headed to Anthony’s two-storey house at the back of the farm.

The Steffen family has been living in KwaZulu Natal, a province in the northeastern part of South Africa, for a long time. Anthony even speaks a sort of Zulu as he still remembers living in the middle of the Zulu-culture. So his (self-built) house was all in the style of this peculiar culture, even with a leopard skin on the living room floor.

I laid back in the bed on the second floor and listened to the wind blowing around the house. Water was dripping off the roof on the gulf plates of the living room. And somewhere there I fell asleep.

Good night Brakkefontein!

Ramon.



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