As you step into Graaff-Reinet the town puts on her most beautiful dress and you get a welcoming warm wave as you wander through her streets. She hands you an envelope filled with stories; an envelope that unfolds as a box of Karoo treasures.
You dig through the Karoo treasure box and meet her people; the heart and soul behind the energy pulsing through the town. You stop in her streets and marvel at her heritage breathing architecture. You discover her history and culture; from a bygone era to today. You step into her kitchen where flavours, family recipes and ingredients dance in harmony in front of you. You join her on mountains and stand in awe of her natural beauty. You stroll along dusty paths and find some more boxes; boxes filled with Karoo gems, shaped to perfection, just for you to discover.
Letters to Graaff-Reinet
Dear People of Graaff-Reinet
You are the reason why so many people return to Graaff-Reinet time and again. Your passion for your town and those visiting your town is palpable; you radiate infectious enthusiasm, you share your special anecdotes, history and dreams. You are the living vein that runs through your town.
Someone who appreciates your passion.
Dear History of Graaff-Reinet
You are one of the oldest settlements in South Africa. You came to life in a different time; a time when ox wagons pounded upon your roads, a time of war, division and uncertainty. You have survived it all, you have seen it all; from your birth in 1786 to the modern day we’re living in. We thank you for preserving your heart, for continuously restoring your buildings and for allowing us to go back in time and walk through the streets were wagons have paved the way.
Someone who respects your perseverance.
Dear Culture of Graaff-Reinet
You are such a beautiful diverse mix of South Africa, you put the multi in multi-cultural. You proudly share stories of Lord Somerset and Robert Sobukwe, you give us a peek into Xhosa culture, a taste of tradition and an appreciation for being proudly South African.
Someone who salutes your acceptance.
Dear Views of Graaff-Reinet
I saw a different side of you from your Valley of Desolation. I saw the Karoo spirit stretching over your plains, the sun touching you softly, succulents drinking from your arid soil and your prominent Spandau Kop keeping a watchful eye. I saw a different side of you; a bird’s eye view of endless spaces encapsulating your natural beauty where black eagles freely roam with the wind.
Lots of Love
Someone who is one of your biggest fans.
Dear Nature of Graaff-Reinet
I feel it’s necessary to write a love letter to you and to admit my obsession with your Camdeboo National Park. You are everything I want from nature in a national park; you offer hiking trails, 4×4 trails, bird hides, camping opportunities under the Karoo sky, unique landscapes, spectacular views and a diverse spectrum of wildlife. I like you a lot. Nope. love you a lot!
Someone who is your not-so-secret admirer.
Dear Food of Graaff-Reinet
I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to dine at one of your finest restaurants where Gordon Wright, legendary chef, shares his passion for ‘slow food’. Here, the food was more than just a dish, it was an experience. Here, local ingredients found their way to my plate. Here, my palate met the Karoo.
Someone who had a foodgasm.
Dear Architecture of Graaff-Reinet
You are a living museum and boast the title of being home to more national monuments than any other city in South Africa. There is nostalgia in your architecture and memories in your walls; your wooden floors squeak and creak stories from the 1800s, colourful louver shutters rest beside your windows offering glimpses from the 1900s while the big *stoep carries the footprints from today.
Someone who enjoys your timeless designs.
South Africa’s first national Instameet was held in Graaff-Reinet from 24-27 September 2015. Hundreds of Instagrammers flocked to the Karoo town to snap, capture, click, point and zoom at everything and anything. Cameras were big, small, old, new, on tripods, on monopods and some even had wings. One thing was certain, everyone came together to #MeetSouthAfrica in Graaff-Reinet and clearly she had a lot to offer.
*Owakho Ngenene – The isiXhosa translation for “Yours sincerely” (Thank you to Viwe Tafeni and his grandmother for helping with the translation!).
*Stoep – Veranda.
*Pointless point: All the postboxes are in Graaff-Reinet.
Disclaimer: The trip to Graaff-Reinet was part of a #MeetSouthAfrica road trip sponsored by South African Tourism; views expressed are my own.