Day 17: Oom Skippie

Oom Skippie

When I have promised that I will send them an SMS the minute I find a lift, Oom Manie and Auntie Joan reluctantly leave me at the petrol station in Humansdorp the next morning. All I know is that I want to head south.

The petrol attendants help by asking drivers where they are going and whether they have space for one more. Auntie Joan phones twice in the first half-hour.

Feeling vulnerable I begin approaching vehicles. Some people just stare at me, while others seem to think that eye contact will make them easy targets. Targets for what I do not know. In one or two cases I feel like a disease – something spotty that others want to avoid at all cost.

I try not to take it personally, gather my courage and speak to a man who is about to climb back into his bakkie. He smiles back at me and asks where I am heading. Hmmm, south! He can’t believe that I have no plan and no route set out. We introduce ourselves. His name is Bees.

He is only going as far as the Kareedouw turn-off that day, but his brother is doing construction work in Skuitbaai. Skuitbaai? I have never heard of such a place! He makes a quick call to his brother, who agrees to mention me to Oom Skippie, who may have room for me.

At the Kareedouw junction, Bees drops me off. I walk along the gravel road towards the sea and a town I’ve never been to before, and didn’t know existed until moments ago. The sun is shining, the sea sparkles alluringly up ahead and a gentle breeze brushes against my face. There are some mountains in the distance and I hear the buzzing of many insects. I feel alive.

Oom Skippie comes to meet me at the Fynbos Golf and Country Estate, where I have been offered a tour of the establishment as well as accommodation. He is a little awkward around me at first, but charming, with grey hair and lively eyes. He has absolutely no problem letting me stay with him, but I must understand that he is a bachelor and lives a simple life. No fancy anythings. And he doesn’t faff over people.

The simple room with a single bed is simply marvellous and I make myself at home before I do a load of washing. I smile at the sight of some lacy bits hanging on the self-proclaimed bachelor’s washing line.

On my second night Oom Skippie needs to do some shopping and we set off for Kareedouw, because Skuitbaai has no shop. With a naughty grin and a devilish twinkle in his eyes he points out one of his local hangouts, the Norma Jean Pub. I turn towards him, ‘Wil Oom Skippie die tonge laat gons?’ His smile is a definite yes.

I casually enter the pub and the four men sitting on bar stools at the counter turn in unison to look at me. When Oom Skippie walks in after me, their surprise is priceless. We have their attention all right and fool them a while longer. ‘Wel, ek is Oom Skippie se stukkie,’ I answer their direct question and Oom Skippie’s amusement is evident in his twinkling eyes.

When I eventually do tell them my story they react with shock. Don’t I know how dangerous our country is? Am I not afraid? I answer that I have forgotten what it is that I am supposed to be afraid of and the men just shake their heads in disbelief.

Oom Skippie was my host for two nights before friends of his poached me. A few days after that I made my way to Knysna.