This past Saturday, the 3rd of September, Frikkie Awesome joined two allies in a photographic documentary from P-town to Colesberg. (Which we didn’t get too) The two allies, Xander van der Merwe and Jasmyn Pretorius, were documenting the people of the small towns in the Freestate, the towns off the beaten track, the towns nobody ever pays attention to. I won’t lie in saying I wasn’t really keen on stopping in every town and small dorpie. The thought alone brought to mind movies like the Hills Have Eyes and wrong turn etc... But I was proved wrong, and had the greatest experience meeting and interacting with the towns folk of the states!
We headed off early’ish on Saturday morning and headed on the N1 toward Colesberg, but just before we hit the super expensive Grasmere plaza, we hooked a left and took the off ramp onto the N(road to nowhere!) This brought us to our first stop which was the quaint, Paris in the Freestate, or as the locals refer to it, Parys... Well. What’s there to say about Parys...? I can see it becoming the Dullstroom of the Freestate in about 2 years give or take 12 months! Weird thing when we were there was seeing a peloton of cyclists riding through the town, probably thinking to themselves that they’re on a stage of the Tour de France! Very soon we headed down the Champs-Elysees (its real name was probably Jan van Vuuren Du Toit straat or something along those lines!) and headed for Kroonstad, Crown City for the English peeps reading this. Now Kroonstad/Crown City is that town that, if you leave early on a trip down to the eastern cape or western cape, you come across at like 5:00 in the morning. I know we always used to stop at the Engen garage and get coffee and have a pee break and then FREEZE your behind off because it’s like -300 degrees Celsius!! So I don’t think anyone has ever stopped there... Well, because we were driving down the back roads of the States, we went straight in through the front door of Kroonstad/Crown City! And what an epic town Kroonstad/Crown City is!! It’s a MASSIVE dorp, people everywhere. The town was pumping. Most interesting person in Kroonstad was a guy called Kagiso. He shared all his hopes and dreams with us, which included moving to Port Elizabeth and building his own fashion brand and becoming world renowned! Big dreams, and a great attitude, Frikkie Awesome!! Oh, and I also found a statue of a guy who resembled Heinz Winckler... Pretty sick!!
Heading from Kroonstad/Crown City to Brandfort or in English, Burning Fort, we travelled along a set of railway tracks which prompted us to stop and take some snaps... This railway line led us into the almost-ghost town of Brandfort/Burning Fort. Strange thing about Brandfort/Burning Fort is the fact that everyone in the town, all 14 of them, ride bicycles. And when you approach them to talk or take pictures, they jump on their bikes and scatter like scared birds.... Weeeeeird if you ask me! But in the town we found a whole bunch of abandoned grain silos that have been sealed up and left to disappear with time and dust. It’s almost like a Chernobyl vibe going on there.
After leaving Chernobyl, we carried on along the road to nowhere, stopped about 100 times along the way due to road works, but it was pretty cool to mingle with the people of the road. Reminded me of traveling gypsies. They weren’t going anywhere specific, just following the wind and hoping for the best. Before arriving in the next town, we stopped off at an old age home that is built alongside quite a stunning waterfall. At first I thought to myself, how do the people of the home sleep at night with the constant thundering of the water, but I later came to the realization that they were all probably deaf from old age, so it didn’t bother them. We said our goodbyes at the old age home (we actually waved) and headed for the next town which was the party capital of the States, Virginia. (Thank goodness for the extra ‘i’, would have been awkward, just saying)
Now Virginia is a big mining town, gold mining to be exact. So one could say that it’s a small version of 011, but without all the buildings, malls, places to hangout and roads etc... Driving through the streets and photographing everything we saw, we came across a party being held by a local church. Some dudes were playing soccer, others were playing finger hockey, kids were jumping, and kids were swimming. People were going crazy! So why not stay and partay along? So we did... We met some cool people doing cool things for their community by keeping the kids off the streets and giving them some sort of future to look forward to.
So all partied out, we hit the road and headed to Bloemfontein... Ja, so there isn’t much one can say about Bloemfontein, except that it’s the only place in the world, because it’s so flat, that you can watch your dog runaway for 3 days! True story.
So seeing as there was not much to do in Bloemfontein, we started off again down the road. A long road. A road with so much road kill, that it became a game to see who could recognize what. Racoons, squirrels, Eland, koalas and Lemurs just to name a few. The road kept going until we saw a sign that said “Springfontein 33453km”; this excited us and gave us the energy to push on until we reached the small town of Springfontein. Now Springfontein the town, is kind of cool, it’s got a lot of history surrounding the railways and the boer concentration camps that were situated in the town back in the day. Outside of the town, more toward Gariep dam, is where the magic happens. There is a little padstal/road store (works better in Afrikaans) on a farm called Kuilfontein. The farm is owned by two of the coolest people this side of the Atlantic ocean. Martinette and Shelton. Martinette runs the padstal and Shelton thinks he can farm. (He really can farm, but he doesn’t come across as your typical boer!) We had the most amazing’est food with them, all Karoo produce. Too good! It’s a definite must stop destination. I’ll do another post later in the week just on the Kuilfontein farm and what they have to offer.
Moving on from Springfontein, we drove on to Gariep Dam. Now we were supposed to carry on to Colesberg, but it was dark already and we weren’t really keen on more driving seeing as though we had been driving for 12 hours already! Now most people stop over in Gariep for like one night on their way through to the cape, so not much is known about the town and the residents. Well let me tell you, that place is INSANE! Those people know how to party, and they party hard! We arrived at this small pub/restaurant/B&B/disco/only-place-to-go-in-Gariep, called Tjaila Tyd. Here we had the biggest dinner ever conceived by man, and it was gooood! We made friends with the friendly staff and basically started the biggest party Gariep has seen since the boer war ended! Strange thing I noticed about Gariep, was that they have the trance version of any song you can think of. From Hey Jude, to Someone Like you to treffers like Kaptein! That place is crazy mad... But we think they are Frikkie Awesome!! It’s a must stop destination.
When we woke up the next morning feeling like a small herd of oxen had just recently run over our heads, we decided that we had had enough of the States for now, and we decided to head back to Presnoria. Snor City. Home. Frikkie good advice: Take the back roads. Go and see the small towns. Such good value, and frikkie awesome people!