When I came here looking for an authentic African experience I didn’t expect that to lead me to a farm. Little did I know a huge percentage of the population in South Africa lives and works on a farm. So this past weekend the school set up a trip for a few of us to visit the frontier and stay with local families. After a five hour car ride, three stops, and the last two hours being on a rock road, not even gravel just straight rocks and potholes, we made it to the farm. After a warm welcome including sandwiches, coffee, tea, and cake, we were off for the real work. First up was herding sheep. Who knew sheep were so fast and agile? They certainly outsmarted us international students and we were quickly on to the next adventure. All seventeen of us piled in the back of a white pickup truck and headed down the mountain to the waterfall. It was such a beautiful drive to get there. The scenery was breath taking. Between holding on for dear life and dodging massive thorn trees over hanging the road I was trying to snap as many pictures as possible to capture the beauty. We had a short hike down to the river and there stood this beauty.
Ryan, Matti, me, Shannon
Matti, Me, Shannon, Aliza
Situated between the two families properties was the waterfall so they technically owned it. Unreal. After a quick dip with my waterproof camera it was off to the next. Milking cows. We not only had the chance to milk them, but we drank right from the cows utter. Which mostly meant Marnus (owner of the farm) shot milk into our mouths and mostly all over our faces. It doesn’t get any fresher than that! And despite the warm temperature of the cream, it was just so delicious.
Our busy afternoon ended in a classic braai bread, corn on the cob and wine out by the fire pit overlooking the river. We all sat around enjoying the scerenity for a few hours because they don’t serve dinner until at least nine on the farm. But no matter how long we waited for food it was always beyond worth it. First dinner consisted of chicken, wild rice, potato wedges, and my favorite, pumpkin cornbread. Yummy!
Why we picked the room right beside the roosters nest is beyond me. Hello, 4 am wake up call! It’s actually pretty impressive that every morning, regardless of what season it is, their roosters wake up at 4 am. Why they couldn’t train them to get up at 7 is a different story, but in any sense it was an early morning. Piled into two trucks this time we headed up the mountain for some incredible views and a strenuous hike. The last mile was straight up hill and it was a race to the top. The first boy and first girl to reach the top were the winners. Competition on my mind and I was off. Ryan and I were the first two to the top of the mountain and therefore winners! We enjoyed some truly breath taking views and even spotted some monkeys playing at the top.
After a picnic lunch we headed back down for some R&R. We were greeted with coffee, tea and cake (I could seriously get used to living on the farm) and enjoyed the afternoon basking in the sun by the pool, playing tennis, watching cricket, and taking walks through the garden. We soon got a tour of the game room, which was instead filled with all the game François had shot. The room included a giraffe, zebra, kudu, springbok, wild boar, and many more. We also got a tour of his person safe which was filled with guns. I didn’t even know people had walk-in safes, let alone for their guns. But after all the shooting talk it was out turn to try it out. We headed out back to the barn and learned how to shoot. I wasn’t so bad making it just outside the bulls-eye, up and a little to the right. I’ll take it.
Up next was easily one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had. I wish I had taken a picture but I’m not even sure if it would have done any justice. First up was the freshest, juiciest steak ever. They might have even slaughtered the cow out, back which is why the dinner took so long to prepare. Sides included: spicy pasta salad, potato casserole, cornbread pudding, roasted veggies and homemade bread with fresh apricot jam. I’m drooling thinking about it again. It was incredible. After dinner we grabbed spotlights, jumped back in the trucks and wandered the fields on a night game drive. It’s definitely harder spotting things at night but once you catch their eyes in the light they glow, it’s really cool. But no, we didn’t see much, the experience it’s self was so fun though. And the stars, ah! They were incredible. I thought you could see more stars here than at home to begin with but out in the country side there were billions. It was unreal how gorgeous the night sky was.
On our last day we were off for one last hike and waterfall excursion. This one was different because you come up to a river that splits the mountain in two but there are no banks on either side. It’s like someone just sliced down the middle of the mountain and then threw a river in there. The only way to get to the waterfall was to swim. Despite the freezing temperatures a few of us jumped right in. I’m in Africa, why not? Another reason I was thankful for the waterproof camera so we could actually capture the day. A beautiful day swimming and we were headed back home.
It was such a fun weekend, full of firsts. We left with open invitations to return as friends next time and I cannot wait to go back.