The road to heaven
In his 12th (and probably last) book, chef, restaurateur and food writer Peter Veldsman travels down memory lane but always returns to Ladismith, the town of his birth.
If you drive along the R62 from the Cape, past Barrydale, near Ronnie’s Sex Shop, you soon reach a plain strewn with white pebbles. It’s the arid part of the Little Karoo. Sheep, goat and baboon country.
Beyond that are the green lucerne fields of Vensterkrans; and at Winkelplaats you start seeing vineyards. Towerkop – the split-down-the-centre domed peak that towers 2 202m above the Little Karoo – gets ever closer.
You drive into Ladismith and turn left at the old church, an architectural masterpiece by Carl Otto Hager that now houses the local tourism bureau. Would you believe I was the last baby
to be baptised in that church? The church council at that point decided a new church had to be built as the old building was supposedly on the verge of collapse. After standing empty for years the church was sold to a milling company and roller grain mills were installed. That thumping machine was in use for years, yet the building still stands.
Any case, you turn left at the church, into Church Street, and head for Waterkloof. Before long you’re in the shadow of the mountain and you might as well be in the Boland. The road takes a sharp right turn and runs along the plateau until it reaches Knuyswagendrift, my grandpa Cilliers’ farm at the foot of Elandsberg, where I grew up, and where Ladismith Country House stands today. Fynbos, honeybush, renosterbos, spekboom, klapperbos, aloes. The privilege to drink pure mountain water and spot dung beetles…
Further along you pass the house where CJ Langenhoven was born, before the road once again joins the R62.
In this one short drive you traverse the Karoo, Little Karoo, Boland… not to mention the scenic Seweweekspoort, which deposits you in the Great Karoo. It’s an incomparable experience. A prelude to a clearing-of-the-mind where the brain lets go and the heart takes over. It’s the start of a new experience, a new awakening. The road to heaven.