I am a small town girl, happiest when I can see more sky than land. I have lived in The City Beneath the Mountain for twelve years now, and I love it, and am eternally grateful for it’s beauty (and its vast sky), every day. But. I still miss small town. I miss being two minutes away from a mielie field, in any direction. I miss the vast open space of it. And every now and again I get so claustrophobic that I feel like I can’t breathe.
It happened last weekend so, on Saturday morning, the morning after the hoardes of people and the excitement of the World Cup opening, we packed a little bag and set off out of the city, allowing the car to choose which direction we’d go. I could feel my lungs expanding as we headed away from the city and the emerald winter landscape opened up ahead of us.
We drove through vineyards dressed in their red-and-gold Autumnal finery, past little farm stalls and into Small Town. We ambled through slowly, looking for a possible place to stay and a place to watch The Rugby (I know, I know… me? Rugby?) Almost as soon as we’d driven into town, we found ourselves on the outskirts again, just the way I like it.
We continued driving, up the mountain pass, and up, the view simultaneously breathtaking and lung-filling. At the top we turned and trundled back down… rugby time. It’s not hard to find a place to watch the Springboks play an international game in Small Town South Africa. We found a cosy litte pub and were soon happily ensconced near the fireplace with a beer each, me with my book, G staring fixedly at the TV. Ideal rugby-watching situation for me – I could read my book and still look up at the exciting bits (given away by squeals/roars/’yeses’ from G and our fellow pub inhabitants.)
I spent the time reading, finding a spot for us to stay (with thanks to the lovely guy who owned the pub) and listening to the conversations of the people around us. I'm a terrible voyeur that way, it fascinates me.
The rugby finished, we switched to football and made friends with a guy called Koos (I kid you not, I have his number in my phone, seriously), who I tried to convince to make up with his brother who he hasn’t spoken to for years, due to his horrible wife. I have a knack of eliciting full family histories from people I meet, almost instantly.
We ate, bid farewell to Koos and went off around the corner to the warm quiet of our little house where I slept, solidly, for almost 12 hours, waking only briefly to hear the rain falling on the roof, and the fabulous cries of the hadedas off to church or something in the morning. Bliss.
I wanted to stay there, where I could breathe.