‘I think you should go left here?’ I said to Frederika.
‘I donno, it’s not really a road is it, maybe we should go back, find the right road?’
‘Julie did say the road was bad, she didn’t say this bad, ugh take the left, we’ll go slow…’
We made it. It took an hour and a half to do 25 kms and sure the drive was beautiful and magnificent and wide open spaces and a couple of cows and no people but WHOA. This was real cowboy territory, more remote than we’d expected, the Karoo, the middle of nowhere, a few sheep, some dried up rivers, a couple of tractors. A bad bad road.
We arrived. A little later than planned. And Julie who runs Karoo Ranching came out to meet us, looking gorgeous, stylish and relaxed, saying…
‘Hey, so good to meet you.’
‘JULIE,’ we both yelled, ‘WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? Your directions are terrible, there are no signs, we’ve been in the fucking car forever, how does anyone find this place, ever, jeez.’
Julie smiled – she had clearly heard this before – told us to choose our rooms (I chose the one with the stuffed and mounted lion’s head) and we sat down to lunch.
Delicious, home grown, fresh, yum.
Julie gave us the plan.
‘So over the next few days we’ll have a few walks, do a little yoga, some meditations, check out the horses…’
We nodded in agreement. We were on a retreat. Four days in the exquisite Karoo of South Africa. Four days to chill.
And we were both tense as fuck. The road was a hard one. And we’re from Johannesburg, the city where pretty much everyone is tense. But we started to relax, sat on the stoep, poured ourselves a drink, met the other guests, spoke about South Africa and farming and the terrible road and everyone laughed and we had a great night.
The next morning we went for a walk.
‘A short walk,’ Julie had suggested.
And so we walked. Wild flowers, stunning views, horses, Nguni cattle, a couple of cowboys, Julie the cowgirl, Julie went one way, we went another, we got lost, we walked, no signs, we couldn’t find a path, eventually got back to the ranch, everyone was Zen, we were not.
‘JULIE WHAT WERE YOU THINKING,’ we yelled again.
She’d left us at some point saying ‘Just head up straight, go right at the windmill, walk as long as you want, you’ll easily find a track down.’
Not so much.
No fucking signs.
And in a way, that became a metaphor for us. There are no signs at Elandskloof Farm, home to Karoo Ranching, but also we learned, no real need for them. No signs, no deadlines and no rush. There was nothing but beauty. And us. And our thoughts.
And maybe a GPS or a compass or something, but hey…
It was BEAUTIFUL.
Karoo Ranching is all about beauty. It’s also about new generation farming where they’re making farming cool again for young people. And encouraging people to farm and grow their own food and love the land and man, we did fall in love with the land.
Over the few days we became fond of Julie. I think she became fond of us too. On the last night she even brought in a few ‘Karoo Ranching’ signs.
‘Look,’ she said, ‘I’m going to get these put up on the road.’
‘Nah,’ we said. ‘ Don’t do it. It’s cool. We may have struggled to find the farm but we found it eventually.’
And we kind of found ourselves in the process.’
Karoo Ranching. Book now. It’s magnificent.
Turn right at the windmill.
Karoo Ranching. 8, maybe 9, maybe 10 hours from Johannesburg. You can book with me. firstname.lastname@example.org