Courting Candles And Dirt Roads In The Karoo

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Courting Candles And Dirt Roads In The Karoo

Our Karoo capers are almost over. A slow meander is what we’ll do today. We'll flip a coin, if it's heads we turn left at the next turn-off if it’s tails we’ll turn right. We’ve got all day.

We turned left about a kilometre outside Sutherland on the main road leading back to the N1. According to the GPS and Tracks for Africa we’ll do a short circular drive before turning back on to the main road.

This is one of the pleasures we have; we don’t have an agenda or time constraints. There’s no need to rush home yet.

It’s a dirt road, with not much going on; dotted here and there are small traditional shepherds’ cottages and farmsteads. With mechanisation and new farming methods came the end of small subsistance farming.  When Karoo farms go on the market it’s often the neighbour who acquires the land as water and grazing is very scarce in these parts and both are highly prized commodities and for successful sheep farming a farmer needs very large herds and large grazing areas. Sadly, the homesteads are often not needed and go to wreck and ruin as we've often seen along these roads.

Along the entire journey we only passed one other vehicle and astonishingly saw three young men walking along without a care in the world, in the middle of nowhere. Where they were off too goodness only knows and where they came from was miles away. I’d love to stop and ask, but we speculate instead, I think they’re off to see girls; one would only walk 20 kilometres for a pretty girl, a good meal and a game of soccer or rugby!

This made us think about the days when there was an “opsitkers” (courting candle) before you knew it you’d have to saddle up and make the trek home, no wonder a marriage was sealed soon after puberty!

The most surprising thing about the flat Karoo is that it isn’t flat at all; it’s got mountains and valleys and passes that surprise, its well worth the effort and always surprisingly pleasing. Maybe next time I’ll get to flip the coin, who knows where we’ll end up.