A human wallflower – from the road, by Ruan Smit
I’m usually inspired by people. Landscape often inspires me but it is those people that I meet within that landscape that helps form the landscape. Magoebaskloof inspired me, I became a wallflower.
I sit in Haenertsburg at the foot of Magoebaskloof in Limpopo province. It is Simon’s birthday but I don’t know him. He is celebrating with his family whilst trying to get as much food in his mouth as his nine year old mouth would allow. Simon’s family is taking photographs of this occasion but he is not interested in their memories. On the deck of this quaint little restaurant in a town that has been left in a different century my head floats from the picture of Simon to what I am about to see …
Simon’s grandmother serves them more salad followed with a big kiss on his forehead. He shies away and wipes the remainder of her kiss from his head. She laughs robustly at his childish gesture. As I watch this little scene from a few tables away I cannot help but smile at the interactions of a big family. Everyone to his own in a collective stride. Even tough I am not invited I become a part of this little boy’s ninth birthday. One that I will forever remember.
Simon sees me staring and he attempts a wave. I stops mid way and frowns. He then waves with the enthusiasm one would expect from a boy celebrating his birthday. I smile at him and slowly start packing my bags. I get on my cycle and head down the road.
The road is a strange thing, South Africa even more so. The unforgiving sun takes from you what you never truly had and when it reaches a point where your mind tells you that nothing more is possible it provides you with some shade. The same with up hills, moments before you give up the earth provides you of the beautiful surroundings and the scent of some flat road. This week I experienced something magical, something so beautiful that the unforgiving road was forgotten. Magoebaskloof showed me her plantations, her natural forest, her flowers. She showed me her glistering pools of water deep down in valleys below.
I become a wallflower to this landscape that reminds one of a fantasy novel. The way the grass works its way up the Bloekom. The undergrowth entangled as if unsure where the sun might speak next. Flowers sharing colour to the shades of green. I lose myself in this background. My head travels to a place where dragons and minotaurs still exist. It lives on without taking notice of me yet it doesn’t ignore me…
It somehow shows me something new down every valley and underneath every fallen tree. It hugs me with shade it has for centuries practiced sharing… As I softly put my bike down on the grass the first plantation workers start appearing. They walk a path known to them for many a day. They are also part of this lustrous landscape that has so much to give. It provides them shelter, shade for their children, food for their tables and wood for their fires.
As I cycle past they lightly nod, I exist, but stay a wallflower. Their arms glimmering with the sweat of a hard days’ work and their bodies moving tiredly down the unforgiving road. I realize that beauty surpasses pain. Even for them. All of a sudden the road decides I have paid my dues, I may enter its last stretch of untamed beauty. I have been accepted…
The road takes me down at a lightning speed. I have to hold on as well as mentally photograph something that might not be shared with me again. I smile. It becomes wider. Underneath my shirt my heart signs to the song of this valley. I am shown a romantic side of myself that I carefully need to gift-wrap and hide for the one person that I would share this with. Underneath the sky tall trees I will share it with them, they will understand what I have leant from this forest. They will share my song.
As the sunlight shows its face again I take a glimpse of my newfound treasures… I won’t forget…
You are reading Explore South Africa Cycle Tour Series Read more from this series of articles.
- Collecting people's stories – Cycling 9000km in 70 days
- Scraps of Hope - Pre cycle-tour Free State visit
- Where is Ruan? Join us as we follow him on his "Explore SA" cycle tour
- A human wallflower - from the road, by Ruan Smit
- She’s no Barberton Daisy ...
- Rashid had R30 - Stories from Explore SA Cycle Tour
- Not another high tea - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Give a Soccer Ball ...
- A Gonubie affair - Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Kenton on Sea inspires - Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Say Cheese! - Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Adin ‘The no money man’ - Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- There is a city… stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- An Elands Bay Road trip - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Where love grows with flowers - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- A River of Life - Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- And Douglas smiles - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Digging for Dreams in Kimberley - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Seeking the sun - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Pitching a tent - stories from the road by Ruan Smit
- Parys with a ‘Y’? - stories from the road by Ruan
- A different forest - stories from the road by Ruan
- For the love - Ruan makes it home