SHALOM. The Hebrew word of greeting meaning “peace” was emblazoned in large, bold letters over the front door of a modest little house, no different from the houses on either side stretched out along a wide residential street in the typical South African agricultural dorpie of Rawsonville.
But even apart from the cheery “Shalom”, Rawsonville is not entirely typical lying as it does in the enormous valley between two spectacular ranges of the Cape Fold Mountains. To the north are the Hex River Mountains which merge into the Langeberge and the Outiniqua ranges to the east, while the South is bounded by the Boland Complex. The valley also includes Slanghoek, an agricultural region dominated by vineyards and orchards.
Sheila and I had arrived in Rawsonville via route 44/301 through Wellington and on over Bains Kloof Pass, which has miraculously escaped “progress” and looks much the same as it did nearly 5 decades ago when we and other young couples with our kids in tow went swimming and sunbathing in the many rock pools below the road. .
The vertical cliffs of the Cape Fold mountains of the region rise precipitously out of the rich, flat agricultural valleys of the region to create the spectacular vistas characteristic of the South-Western Cape.
I had booked a night at the 4-star Monte Rosa Lodge in Rawsonville after 6 weeks of a debilitating episode of bronchitis which had left both of Sheila and me in urgent need of R and R. We were in luck. Not only was the accommodation way beyond merely comfortable but, as the only guests, we received the undivided attention of Laura our hostess who ensured that we would leave the next day feeling enormously rejuvenated.
The village was spic and span and, while the general run of gardens could not be described as spectacular, one or two were charming and exuberant. Feeling much refreshed after dining that evening at the Tin Roof, a cafe with a difference, followed by a good night’s sleep and ample breakfast at the Lodge itself, Sheila and I paid a leisurely visit to Opstal, one of the many wine farms of the region. It faces across the valley into one of the more spectacular mountain ranges, probably the Limietberge, of the Boland Complex.
Feeling a little woozy after an ample wine-tasting at Opstal we took the R43 back through Villiersdorp over the Villiersdorp Pass into Franschhoek and eventually back home again about 36 hours after we left. Luckily enough, the weather had been mostly warm and sunny and we were reminded once again of the unique environment of our very own Eden, the Western Cape.
For other images from the trip see Todays Image Gallery towards the top of the righthand column. NB – Right click on image to see in new tab.