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Posted on: Friday, 12 March 2010

Say Cheese! – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit

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"Say Cheese!"

“Say Cheese!”

When I left Johannesburg 4 weeks ago I decided to stop at the first wine farm on route to Cape Town. There’s just no other way, one can’t visit the Western Cape without doing at least one wine tour. So my cycle tour for one day became a wine tour, and it’s quite awesome what one can see doing the tour this way. Obviously tasting is limited but I wouldn’t mind arranging more of these in the near future.

On the R60 from Swellendam I travel towards Robertson and Worcester. A stretch of road that I’m not completely familiar with, but I’m so struck by the beauty of the landscape that more than 30km pass by on the cycle before I realize I have no clue where I am. It’s a misty morning and the mountains show me a majestical side of this world. I cannot help but see myself living here and exploring some mountain trails and enjoying a wood fire at the end of a long rainy day …

About 10km along, just before a little town named Ashton, I find the long awaited wine and cheese farm. Because its lunch time I decide that this will be the perfect spot for me to sit down and acknowledge the absolute splendor of this area.

On a veranda overlooking the most peaceful day I’ve experienced in a while I sit and wait for a platter of fine cheese and bread whilst sipping on a glass of Pinotage. Enter Bernard. With no care in the world this little boy walks over and asks me my name. At the age of four he still has the world at his feet and all the confidence to take control of his dreams. I admire this in young children, the fact that nothing is impossible and no one unapproachable.

"Say Cheese!"

He starts going through my bag and finds my camera, without needing any explanation on how it works he switches it on and starts taking photos. He looks at me then say: “Say cheese!” he takes a snap. And he’s not camera shy either. When I point the camera towards him he stands up straight and looks at it with assurance. His mother owns the little wine tasting facility and his father is the cheese maker. He can’t make cheese himself he says but his father will show him soon. He makes it sound as if one can learn the art in a split second.

Then he finds my phone and he wants to listen to some music. He walks over to some other guests and tells them that we’re going to listen to some music, just music and if we disturb them he will close the door. He loses interest in my taste of music quite fast and he moves along to jump in puddles of water with his multi coloured gumboots.

How it must feel not to have a care in the world and living in a place like this. When rain or sunshine brings a smile to the morning as endless potential embraces each day. He comes back and with no ounce of personal space issues comes and sits on my lap whilst I’m enjoying a light lunch. When I ask him if he wants to share my bread he says he’s not allowed to take food from guests. His mother has made this rule. But I can understand why guests would ask him to join their conversation. At age four he runs the conversation, he changes the topics and he chooses the food.

Obviously I want to learn from this little master and he has the answer to all the questions, they usually start with, ‘my dad says’, his dad must be the greatest man on earth sharing all this wisdom with his son.

"Say Cheese!"

When I leave Bernard comes running after me with his umbrella, he wants to know where mine is. After learning that I don’t have one he almost wants to give me his but then he realizes that he’ll be unprotected from the rain…

Whenever I return to the road between Swellendam and Worcester I will definitely remember Bernard’s story. This piece of earth shares his problem free and careless life. This route shares it with all that dare seek some quiet …

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1 comment about Say Cheese! – Stories from the road by Ruan Smit
  1. March 12th, 2010 at 14:26
    Andre says:

    My dad says… aaaah, the good old days when we didn’t have to worry about anything and we still had the world at our feet like you said! Wish I could exchange the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg for the tranquility of the Western Cape…mmm…perhaps when I’m ‘big’. Great article!