LETTER FROM Maltahöhe
This month, Lloyd Zandberg is not writing from the Namibian capital – he’s in Maltahöhe. But how did he end up there?
In Maltahöhe, the earth is parched and the people are tougher than a Wilson’s toffee. Local highlights include drinking a beer at the hotel, buying a new pair of socks at PEP, and the potato salad at Pappot (a shop and guesthouse). But these attractions are not the reason I’m in Maltahöhe (although I never leave town without a Pappot potato salad). I’m on my way to visit my brother on Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate, one of the driest wine farms in the world. To get there, you have to drive through Maltahöhe.
The dirt road between Maltahöhe and Neuras is in a very poor condition and my city car won’t survive the corrugations. So, my brother usually fetches me in Maltahöhe with his Cruiser bakkie with big tyres and cattle rails on the back.
One of the things I like to do in Maltahöhe is visit Oom Sout and Tannie Miems. We’re not related and it’s not really a visit: I park my car under an awning at their house while I’m on the farm with my brother. The sun burns everything to a crisp here and if I were to leave the car in the street, I’d return to find only an exhaust pipe and a pile of ashes. To repay their generosity, my brother brings them mutton from the farm.
You won’t find anyone more down to earth than Oom Sout and Tannie Miems. They are perfectly happy with the little they have – their worldly possessions could fit into a Jacuzzi. They live in one of the oldest houses in Maltahöhe, directly behind the municipal swimming pool. (The pool is empty. On weekends, the only rebel in town rides his skateboard in the deep end.) Their house is small, boxy and painted blood red, with two square windows overlooking the street.
My brother once told me that no one knows how Oom Sout earned his nickname, and that Tannie Miems was once a wellknown singer in Namibia who came close to recording a duet with Patricia Lewis. I don’t know much more about them.