Friday, 29 April 2016

The Ghost

Up wild steps and into the darkened Groot Marico Inligtingsentrum Lynda and I hesitantly entered. “Hallo, hallo”, I called in a high pitch hopefully unthreatening ladies voice into the Information Centre, and for some reason I had to go add, “nommer asseblief”.

Why I had to ask for someone’s number in Afrikaans in the same way telephone exchange operators answered the phone in order to reroute the call in the area, is beyond even me. I don’t know why but no sooner as those words rolled unchecked off my lips came a gruff voice out of the gloomy darkness, “what do you want?” as what seems at first to us the ghost of Oom Schalk Lourens as he shuffled into the dull light coming through from outside.

It didn’t occur to us at the time that the ghost spoke English nor the fact that the ghost was a real live person albeit looking close to death in the low light. Egbert must have seen us jump out of our skins and with Lynda halfway out the door already, his tone changed to a more soft enquiring voice “how can I help you?” And then I had to put my foot once again in my mouth as I sheepishly answered Egbert, “I thought someone had died in here”, well we nearly did.

Well 9:30 in the morning must have being a little early for visitors to the Groot Marico Inligtingsentrum as Egberg shuffled off to put on some lights so that we could browse around. It was not long and Santa (yes that is her name, I presume named after a saint rather than Mrs Claus herself) arrived up the steps carrying a 5l plastic bottle filled with fresh milk which I assumed was still warm from the cow. Moer koffie to wake Egberg up from the dead, tyt vir koffie en beskuit.

After the Information Centre, we explored up and around the Herman Charles Bosman museum on the hill behind the information centre for a few hours and another character out of stories of the Groot Marico stepped out of the pages of history. Ina (above) was busy at the local church when she saw us doing exploring, she quickly strolled across to us still carrying some frozen meat leftover from last week’s church bazaar. Ina, a local boervrou, descendant from the area whose name in Tswana means “Push in Deep” became our local tour guide and history expert of the area.

The Groot Marico steep in thick gooey history but somehow a place left behind from the 50s, crumbling as a place does when forgotten but for a few stories left behind in the memories of the bosveldt that not even the Bekkersdal Marathon could save. As we were leaving we noticed the new stories being made as children huddle not around the campfire but the communal tap, collecting for fresh drinking water.

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