Steytlerville / Country Practice / Time Warp
Why Steytlerville ? Why Here? (As opposed to somewhere else)
A dear friend of mine has given up a lucrative, busy medical practice in The City of Gold (Johannesburg ) to throw his lot in with 130 Europeans in this little town at the end of a road in The Karoo ( for my ausie friends – read desert 😳)
And so I came to see why.
I get it – as I sit on a bench on the main road which is wide enough to turn an ox wagon in. Eating a vetkoek ( too difficult to explain to my ausie friends😜) and drinking rooibos tea. And strangely with Hillsong – cornerstone playing in the background .
There is an occasional car that goes back and forth – because back and forth is all one can do since no roads lead anywhere 😜 except to the local township or a private farm.
Two (yes 2) funeral parlours. One of which promises excellent service ( but doesn’t make clear whether in this world or the next) – the other makes no promises in either 😃
Three general handelaars which sell everything from wool ( but no knitting needles) to generators and koeksusters.
Which brings me to language –
Neither English nor Afrikaans are spoken here – but that delicious mix of them both which seems to unite the groups (in an unconscious way) and makes me long to be back living here.
Everyone greets me – not that that means hundreds of greetings, interpret rather tens of greetings. And I am definitely now ”n tannie’ – for my Ozzie friends – a greeting reserved for your elders – a mark of age, respect and implied wisdom!!!!!
Not quite the celestial reverence accorded my ‘Dr Dave’ as we strolled through town yesterday evening though -,”aand Doktor’ was the call from every stoep, evening walker, child playing , teenager loitering – no one can remember when there was a resident doctor in Steytlerville !!!!!!! and without ever having met him or consulted him- he is applauded by then for just being here.
We had a roast leg of lamb for dinner yesterday – the gift of a patient and Dave invited local farmers to join us. Between vast quantities of whiskey and beer we talked in our mutual blend of languages, late into the night before the reality of a pre dawn start forced us all to bed.
A constant struggle to overcome weather and labour issues makes a farmers life here a tough one.
Time moves differently here – could it be :
the light, a bright blue that sparkles , or the stars – millions of them breathtakingly shimmering,
the one long road that leads nowhere,
the river that once washed the bridge
away, not once but three times and hasn’t had a drop of water flow through it for some thirty years
the people who have chosen to move slowly, stopping to talk, taking time to listen, talking to their chickens, thriftily watering precious vegetables, sharing more generously than one is used to in the city?
Or am I romanticising a town on struggle street – time will tell as Dr Dave settles into Steytlerville ……