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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Sunday, 28 October 2001
Oudtshoorn --> De Rust (SA)

Today I'll rattle on about how I gave 'birth' to an ostrich and how I lost my cellphone during a flood through the hostel in heavy rainfall. But fortunately my paper notebook could be saved in the oven of a bakery...
I woke up around 9am and after a nice shower in my double room in the Backpacker Paradise I had breakfast with some of the other guests in the breakfast room downstairs. Breakfast was very heavy this time, as scrambled ostrich eggs can be. It just tastes and has the same yellow color as normal eggs, but it fills up very fast.

The weather looked nice, but suddenly it rained extremely. And when that cloud had passed over, it instantly was bright sunny again. Strange.

After this breakfast I made my arrangements with some upcoming places-to-stay with my mobile phone and I met up with Marius, the owner of Paradise. Next to running this backpackers inn, he also handles a hatchery for ostrich eggs.

Manager Louis told him about the article which the Africaans newspaper Die Burger had published about me yesterday, and he was quite surprised by the attention my project generates.

I had already packed my backpack, ready for my pickup by my next host at 3pm. To fill up the time, Marius decided to take me along to his local hatchery. While on the road, the dark clouds gathered again and dumped a massive (and I don’t really know how I can make it sound any worse, but it was massive!) rain on us. And it looked like it would go on for a while.

At the hatchery Marius showed me how he takes care over over 600 ostrich eggs, especially nursed in airconditioned cabins. He gave me one egg, where the paws of the ostrich chicken were already sticking out and asked me to open it to free the chicken. I carefully broke away the hard shell until I could turn the remaining shell over, leaving this fresh and wet but fragile chicken in the palms of my hand. This was wonderful.

It took a while before we could get back to the car. Two seconds in this rain would soak anybody in a jiffy. Finally on our way back, I saw the bronze coloured water streaming down the hills along the streets. Cars had to wait or slowly drive through the huge amounts of water. In the car Marius received a phonecall from the Paradise, telling them that the water had entered the hostel.

When we arrived back at the hostel, everybody was walking around with towels, squeezing them outside and going back in again.

Damage had already been done. The entire kitchen had been flooded as the rain came straight down the garden, into the house, even into the livingroom, touching the front door.

My back and shoulder bag was saved from the washing water, but nobody could prevent that the first wave would make EVERYTHING WET.

I emptied my bag on the kitchen table and let all the water out outside. I was the most concerned about my paper notebook, containing all my notes all the way back from my stays in Norway.

It was partly soaked. My addresslist of upcoming places-to-stay was laid out on the table and I took my mobile phone apart. Also that got wet. All other little things I had in the shoulder blag, like business cards, flyers, small notes and my map of South Africa, were good for the dumpster.

“Something like this doesn’t happen very often,” I was told my manager Louis. “Maybe once in the ten years and then even not like this!” Here in Oudtshoorn people had been praying for rain, but this was of course a little too much...

When my host arrived to collect me, he noticed my wet luggage. “Come on, pack it all together and we’ll hang it all up at my place,” Andre Coetzee said, and I got everything ready for the drive to my next destination: De Rust.

Andre Coetzee had heard me on the radio when he was online and immediately invited me me. Andre is the owner and solely runner of The Shop in The Rust (or De Winkel in De Rust in Afrikaans).

And that already is an extraordinary thing, as Die Rust only exists out of some ten streets upon a hill with a main road guiding through it. Along this main road, there are just a few shops and The Shop was one of them.

With wild enthusiasm to finally have met me, Andre fired the usual twenty most-asked questions to me and I honestly have to confess that it gave me a pain in my chest in the car. He asked me where I came from, what I have been doing before, how long I have been travelling, which countries I had visited and the rest of the list. Eventhough I get to answer these questions every single day, it strikes me if they come within two minutes. Also because everything is clearly mentioned on my website.

When I thoughtful told Andre about all the questions I get every day, he got a bit at ease and understood my situation. He had only invited me through my website and only read one report I had written, he admitted. All the other content on this website stayed unseen and unknown.

Once we arrived at The Shop in The Rust, he explained me that my website contained a lot of information and he can’t really bear things like that anymore. “I already have too much shit in my head,” he said.

But I proudly handed him the newspaper article that the Citizin newspaper had written about me and that cleared up a lot of information gaps.

He was amazed by the gigantic size my project has reached sofar and he totally enjoyed the fact that from all the invitations I have received and all the places I have visited and I am going to visit, I arrived at his Shop in The Rust.

Once settled in the interesting shop full of crafts, basically from all over the world, I unloaded my belongings, hanging things on the line and spreading all the paperwork that got wet. The phone still stayed a bubbling aquarium. My notebook could be easily saved, as Adre took me to the grocery shop and bakery across the street. After some explaining to the owner, my notebook was placed in the bread oven and they secured me that everything would be alright. I hoped so!

He had invited me because of inspiring idea behind this project. He loves people with smart ideas, people who just change their lives in a blink of an eye and just do want they really want to do.

Before he came to The Rust, nine months ago, Andre had lived for years in a mud hut in the forrests near Pettelsberg Bay. He left the past of his live behind him and lived there in his own ecological equilibrium.

As a salesperson he still is inside, he got the offer to run a shop in Die Rust. Within a few days he had moved to Die Rust and within one week the shop was open again. His live had changed, again, and he is happy with it.

Now his whole life goes on around the shop. “How the traveling around the world and staying with people is as exciting for you, Ramon, is what the shop does to me. I love to meet my customers.” And those customers are mostly tourists passing through, coming in for a quick browse for souvenirs and curiousities and Andre loves to have a short chat with them.

But why The Rust? After a short walk around town, we ended back at the shop within 25 minutes. I had seen it all. The town itself is peaceful and the streets are lined with trees. Its drinking water, from a mountain spring, puts expensive bottled water to shame and is pumped from a system up the hill into the village.

Die Rust is located in the Little Karoo valley, just south of the Swartberg Mountains which lead to the Big Karoo valley. The surrounding area is a mixed farming land, with ostriches, sheep and the vegetation of tobacco, fruit and seeds.

Together with some friends of his, Carl and Hillary, Andre drove me through the Meiringspoort into the Swartberg Mountains. Everybody was amazed by the change in nature. The little clear creek that used to drifted along the road, had changed in a brown wild river. They had never seen anything like this, ever!

The water had just gone over a few bridges too, as we could see from the debris on the bridges! Andre and I walked along a 5-minutes path towards the location where once a pleasing waterfall fell down, but it had changed in a ferocious torrent, splashing down in the natural pool. The ordinary old-aged tourists all stayed at a distance with their walking sticks, while Andre and I climed on the wet rocks, trying to get very close to the fall.

Once back in town again, Andre and I visited the bakery again, curious for the result of my oven-baked paper notebook. And strangely enough everything was as dry as cork!

And the best way to get the dried and wrinkled papers back in shape, was ironing. So you can imagine how I stood in Andre’s kitchen, ironing all the pages of the notebook. And it looked like brand new again.

For dinner Andre took me out across the street again, where the grocery shop and bakery also seemed to hide a restaurant in their back. “Just because you won’t really like my cooking,” he said. “Why not?” I asked. “Well, I only eat rice with linzles.”
“Every day?” And he admitted that food didn’t really mean a lot to him, it takes too much time which he would rather spend in his shop. So that is why I had fried potatoe with a big chunk of meat with a Greek salad in the restaurant. You didn’t hear me complain at all.

Back home we drunk coffee and it was time for me to hand him the Letmestayforaday-gift, which had passed the Paradise in Oudtshoorn as my original host couldn’t be there and now came from my Wendy Nillsson and the Steffen Family in Brakkefontein.

With the devotion Andre already had with my Letmestayforaday-project (he was about to plasticize me and hang me in the shop with a big banner above me, saying: This is the famous Flying Dutchman – please don not touch!), he got even more excited when I gave him the present. I seemed to be to good for this world, as I could conclude from his words.

And he was very happy with Wendy’s present, an original Back-2-Back-bag, the prominent Christmas present for any big company, as it can haul two bottles of wine and a 12-pack of beer cans. “Thank you, Wendy!”. And with the gift I gave him a very difficult task: to find something in his shop which could be the present for my next hosting people. Especially difficult because there is so much.

When the night set in and the birds outside started their nightlife, I caught up on Andre’s internet connection as he prepared a mattress for me on the floor of the shop. After many cups of coffee and chats about life, Andre went to bed and I finished my things online, before crawling in the sleeping bag on the mattress.

Good night De Rust!

Ramon.



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