Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) argued that we as people cannot assure a secure foothold because everything we produce is potentially capricious and because of that we have to allow our Being domiciliary rights in the home of language.
Of that nature was our discussion with Herman Perold, philosopher friend from Prince Albert who together with his lovely companion Susan produces from his own vineyard the most delicious nectar, called “Soetkaroo”.
Walter and Herman discussing, fleetingly, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the surprisingly simple principle of a newly acquired wine press.
Before we arrived at Prince Albert, we had to leave Aliwal North where we stayed in a comfortable rondavel on a farm with its own hot spring and bath. Proceeding from there to Nieuw Bethesda and further on into the Sneeuwberg mountains to a place called Doornberg where we stayed for two nights, taking time to explore Nieuw Bethesda and Graaff-Reinet.
A visit to André's 2 Goat's Deli, Brewery and Restaurant is an absolute must in Nieuw Bethesda. He produces the most delicious beers and a variety of goat's milk cheeses - very much in the trend to create alternatives to dairy products.
Nieuw Bethesda gained notoriety because of Helen Martin who produced in her house and garden some kind of mythological landscape of her own mind and because of her self-inflicted violent death. Athol Fugard wrote a play about her called "The Road to Mecca". It was filmed under the same title with Kathy Bates in the role of the inquisitive anthropologist. Much of the intrigue of the original place has been lost though. When we visited the "Owl House" some fifteen years ago, everything was still visible and accessible as it had been left and kept after Helen Martin's death. There was a strong eeriness about the place then which today seems to have worn off. The rusted remains here elsewhere in the village, are in a way an attempt, we think, to relegate the past to its proper grave.
On our way South before we reached Nieuw Bethesda and Graaff-Reinet, we passed through Bethulie and visited – after Springfontein on our way up to Johannesburg – another memorial to the women and children who had died in concentration camps the British had erected during their 1899-1902 campaigns to annex the South African gold fields, after their homesteads had been scorched and burnt to the ground in order to bring the Boer forces to their knees. We counted over 2000 recorded names.
We made a deviation on our way into the Valley of Desolation, passing through a small wilderness area where we encountered a troup of Blue Vervet Monkeys.
Blue vervet monkeys.
Sandstone formations - Valley of Desolation - near Graaff-Reinet.
Mountains of the Kamdeboo.
African landscape - on the road from Nieuw Bethesda to Graaff-Reinet.
Stop-over in De Rust. The Village Trading Post. Lifestyle Restaurant and Riverside Accomodation. 044 241 2110 or phone Niekie at 083 332 0577. It sure looks recommendable.
An unexpected delight.
An apple cake of particular note. Absolutely delicious. High praise from our French guests indeed.
From De Rust we passed through Oudtshoorn to scale the Swartberg Pass. En route we noted the absence of all traditional ostrich farming except for one farm. The bird flu seems to have knocked out the industry. What has happened to all the farmers?
We were delighted to finally get to see the place a Stellenbosch friend of ours has created in Prince Albert for herself and for her friends. She maintains that the house must, as she puts it, disappear. Well, you can see the idea:
Perfectly situated to blend into the landscape - or "disappear".
Photographed against her wishes - she will not mind, though, we hope.
From her back stoep - the Karoo - that is the view. The feel and way of being here.
Finally, the setting for our evening meal. If we think of language as a home where our being is welcome to dwell, then all we do and say and be will like-wise be and dwell with all our friends.
Im Haus der Sprache wohnt das Sein.
Where we and speak reside, we are.
Walter & Colleen
Betty’s Bay, Sunday, 25 March, 2015