Sitting on the sand berm, I’m watching my three-year old enacting her particular brand of beach hooliganism through occasional clenched teeth and a sharp intake of air. ‘Yeah, walk it off’, I offer helpfully (adding a thumbs-up for good measure) after a particularly epic earth-to-face collision.
Now a question of etiquette. Do I strike up a conversation with the only other person sitting here? Or put in my AirPods? Feels weird to just ignore each other, my daughter, after all, has her kid in a some kind of chokehold and seems intent on drowning it in the lagoon… which feels like an ‘in’.
‘Are you a local?’ I venture.
She says she’s from Tesselaarsdal. It’s said in a way that implies a sense of geography on my part. Poker-faced I smile, not giving away that all I understood was gibberish… I do however get the sense that while not a local-local, she is claiming kinda-local.
I Google-map it when I get home. Its about… an hour away maybe. Its more incline and bendy than actual mileage. Right turn three quarters of the way up the valley and then 30km of dirt road. I get the sense that its not the most arduous of treks.
Today turns out to be winter. A season I feel gets misnomered down here, since it almost never goes below 12C (54F). A drop to these nether-temperatures brings out the puffer jackets, wood fires getting stoked in every parlor and talk of ‘never been this cold in all my life’ while cradling a mug of steaming hot Glühwein with mittened hands. (despite this weather-thing happening, fairly reliably every single year)
Still, its not beach weather and it feels like being confined-to-quarters might lead to infanticide and so we opt for a road trip… and from my recent bout of search-engine-ness, I (in an autocratic manner) decide on Tesselaarsdal.
We end up here. De Postkantoor. Which through phonetics you might be able to discern is Dutch for the Post office.
I love all things postal. (I’m almost sure this is not going to devolve in waxing on lyrically about philately… but it might)
Back in the early 1800s, Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar was ‘gifted’ land here after military service in the VOC (The Dutch-East-India company). He died… and the land went to his widow. I imagine they were childless, because when she died their Last Will and Testament stated that their land be divided up amongst their slaves and servants. (whose decedents still farm here) Super unusual circumstances for a time not know for its eh… cross-phenotype menschkeit.
Interestingly, during Apartheid, some of the residents of Tesselaardal were deemed ‘white’ and others ‘colored’. BUT, the Group-areas-act (where whites and other races were not allowed to co-inhabit, and the colored component was relocated, usually with added prejudice) was never enforced here, and they were mostly just left alone.
In any event, in 1891 the town, the community was deemed large enough to get its own post office. The postmaster and his family lived in the main building and the post office occupied the small annex in the front.
I chose the Postmasters breakfast, which was ridiculously ample, and came in stupidly cheap at (more or less) $5.50. This may be the new favorite thing in the world. I am so enamored I take a picture of it (for posterity). I am dimly aware that probably a third of my posts revolve around either coffee and/or breakfast… and I apologize for that. It really is my thing though.
My efforts to take a couple more photos are thwarted by a violent midget who proceeded to launch into a gleeful Stuka-style-dive bomb every time my camera came out. The lights not great anyway, so the DSLR gets stowed and I chase this hoodlum round the old farm house. Which really, is only a two lap affair before I’m winded.
I have zero bars of signal on our return trip and my wife is ideologically opposed to Google Maps… and so Waze takes us on an… eh… ‘interesting’ non-standard route which without 4×4 (and all the boy scout gear I keep in the back of the truck) would likely have ended in… well… probably not disaster… but certainly would have been less fun.
Still, it was a good day out and I might have a new favorite breakfast venue. Which makes me, on the whole quite cheerful.