If you’re ever in the Karoo, deep in the heart of South Africa, make time to chat with random people you meet. Guesthouse owners, restaurant staff, shopkeepers, even people you bump into on the street. You’ll be captivated by their stories of what strange things happen in the Karoo.
Like the chap who reverses his car out of the yard and then drives in reverse gear to the shops on the main road. Reverse is the only gear he ever uses. When we heard the story, we thought perhaps the forward gears of his car didn’t work properly. ‘No, no, it’s his brain that doesn't work properly,’ was the reply.
They wouldn’t survive a week in the city, but here in the Karoo they’re just part of the local colour and people find a way of accepting their eccentricities.
The driver was a longhaired, bearded hippie with lots of beads around his neck, a squint in one eye. Bangles stretched three-quarters of the way up his arm, which was sunburned from sticking out the window as he drove. He told us he was on his way home from a long trip, sticking to back roads just for the fun of it.
Next to him in the passenger seat was a beautiful woman with an excessively pale skin, staring forward from under a pink sun cap, sunglasses held delicately in one hand. We thought it odd that she was ignoring us when he was so friendly. As we were saying goodbye, we realised she was a shop mannequin. But by then he was rolling down the hill in a puff of dust, which was a shame. I’d have liked to ask who his friend was – and wouldn’t that have been an interesting story.
‘So what does Oom do all day?’
‘I listen to the radio.’
‘What programme do you listen to?’
‘I don’t know that one, what’s it about?’
‘Ja well you see it goes “sss … sss” most of the day.’
Sss … ssss, Radio Pofadder’s (puff adder’s) static white noise has one loyal and happy listener.
Strange things happen in the Karoo.
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