"Let's take a trip to Wuppertal! If I recall from my previous visit, it's about a 10-kilometer drive down this road". I say to my sister as I turn the car onto a winding dirt road.
"Are you sure?" she says.
"Oh yes," I say "It's just a little way down the gravel road into a valley below".
We were on a road trip to the Cederberg region of the Cape. We rented a small motor vehicle, it was in the month of December, it was blisteringly hot, the Cape experienced an unusually vicious heatwave that season. As we meandered down the hill into the valley, the kilometers were clocking up on the odometer, but Wuppertal was nowhere to be seen.
We passed fields of pristine fynbos and curiously shaped rock formations which glimmered red in the midday sun. This breathtaking sight took our attention away from our immediate demise of not knowing how far ahead our destination was. As luck would have it, a donkey cart appeared on the road a distance away. We stopped to enquire about Wuppertal just to be told that we still had 50-kilometers to travel.
Luckily we were going downhill all the way, because the vehicle was running low on fuel and I knew that we would possibly not make the destination. So wherever we could, we free-wheeled down the mountain towards Wuppertal, total enthralled by the beauty which surrounded us.
Wuppertal is an oasis in the craggy wilderness of the Cederberg. A hamlet that serves as a Moravian Mission station. As the little rental vehicle chugged into the village, one of the first structures next to the Moravian Church is the old church bell and the welcome picture of a typical Cape Dutch cottage.
As we drove along the narrow potholed gravel roads mesmerized by the quaint architecture and lush informal gardens of the homes, a wonderful sight caught our attention. In the extreme heat of the summer afternoon, the village children were frolicking and cooling off in a muddy damn. One of the children ran up to the vehicle, when we asked where we could fill the car with fuel, the answer came back "there's no filling station in Wuppertal". But, we were told, "you could wait for the dominee (priest) to return from his journey to the city, the dominee stores fuel for tourists". Relieved to hear this we asked when would the dominee return and were told: "maybe tomorrow, maybe in a few days".
There was accommodation available in the village, I was excited and willing to spend a few days with the local folk, but my sister was adamant to escape from the heat as the town is situated in the bottom of a valley and at that stage, there was not a hint of a breeze blowing. To calm the situation down I suggested we take a drive (the sweltering heat made it unbearable to walk) to do some photography and to have a bite to eat and a an ice-cold beer.
The lush green of grapevines hanging heavy with fruit was a refreshing sight. We saw many folk sitting on their verandahs under the shade of the vines, protected from the harsh sun.
"How do people make a living in this isolated world?" was my question.