go: Platteland

The valley of faith, hope & love

Gravel. In modern times, this is something we don’t experience often enough. You are compelled to slow down, feel the ridges in the road. You want to wind down the window, turn off the radio, take deeper breaths, inhale the fragrances around you, look more keenly… feel lighter.

Here, on the gravel road after you’ve turned off the R320 – the Hemel-en-Aarde road between Caledon and Hermanus – and disappeared into the hills and dales of the Overberg, this ethereality is far more intense, the feeling of peace exceptionally tangible.

It is the heart of winter, in the time of Covid-19, and the lush wheat fields are interspersed occasionally with yellow splashes of canola. The sky is pale blue with strips of white cloud, the dams are full, flat and sparkling. Although you should keep your eyes peeled for the occasional pothole, there is too much else to see. Small herds of sheep go by… a few laid-back cattle, a pair of long-necked blue cranes calmly observing the world. And green, green, green, as far as the eye can see.

Then, 18 km and a few waving passersby later, the gravel road brings you to a hollow at the foot of the Klein-rivier Mountains. Just a few houses, most from a previous era, are scattered among the fynbos, oaks and blue gums.

This is Tesselaarsdal. The place where slavery ended earlier than elsewhere and where the harshest tentacles of apartheid – forced removals – never reached. A place of faith, hope and love.


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