South African roads are some of the best in the world. The potholes, livestock and crazy taxis that use it cannot take away from the pleasure of driving on ZAR roads. You can be driving next to the coast one moment and in the next wind up some mountain pass. Our national highways in some places are like smooth black conveyor belts, carrying mostly white Toyota bakkies. Silent on the tread, long sixth gear straights with plenty beautiful curves along routes like the N2 is what my car love. But what she digs most are the dirt roads that flood like red veins off these major routes. These gravel roads often end up making the trip there better than the actual destination.
When you choose to take dirt roads you end up in places like Wupperthal. They lead to places where the petrol station only operates certain times in the day and never on Sundays. They take you to places where Coca Cola still sponsor white and red Café name signs such as Lekkerbek. You buy fruit rolls at places like tannie Gertruida se pad stalletjie and for some reason you wave at any other drivers passing you by. You basically do things you wouldn’t do on a normal road. If there is a puddle of mud and water on the other side of the road, you go for it. If there is a photo around a corner you stop and take it. Speed limits are generally adhered to, anders sien jy jou gat.
If you go slowly on those no-rush kind-of gravel roads you see stuff like sheep herding dogs working in unison, keeping flocks of tjops together. I see a herd’s man standing by a draad hek and he looks like his name could be Petrus. It could also be Johannes or Piet. Dit is mos ‘n Afrikaanse plek die. With his Blue overalls and a very old hat the oompie greets with a smile. Good folk. Wine loving folk. Hardworking folk. I see it on his hands, those hands that work with farm stuff everyday.
Our gravel roads take you to places like the Boegoe mountains, where 4×4 routes get you to the best skottelbraai destinations in the world. They get your adrenaline pumping and always have sneaky hills and curves that hide some sort of surprise. They take you to farm gates that lead to the ocean. Our dirt roads smell of fresh earth after rain.
Our dirt roads have character and our dirt roads have vibe.
Our dirt roads make me not want to wash my car after being on them. I keep the dirt on my car at least a week after getting back to civilization and every time I see that dirty cabbie parked in the Checkers parking lot I smile, and remember the adventures that were made with every layer of mud sitting on my mud flaps.
West Coast farm gate under South African skies