Prof Jonathan Jansen, one of the head honchos at Free State University, was born in the village of Montagu, and cherishes his visits to this gateway to the Little Karoo
Pictures: Shaen Adey and Supplied
There are few places in the world where, if I was lost, I could mention the name of my favourite relative, Aunty Amy Saunders, and everybody would know who she was and how to find her home. Such was life growing up in the folds of the little town of Montagu.
I still remember the clean furrows of warm water running through the town, particularly alongside the pavements with their large grey slabs, across from the Avalon Hotel. To this day the smooth tar roads are spotless and run off the main street, still with shops called Brink Brothers, to the denser locations of houses where ‘the people’ lived.
The tall spires of the Dutch Reformed Church mark time and eternity and, once I am on higher ground, I can look down on the beautiful Langeberg mountains reflecting sunlight onto Route 62 which is, easily, the most scenic road trip through this gateway to the Little Karoo.
Just beyond the housing estates, a large holiday resort has been built around those famous hot springs from the mountains. In summer and winter people flock there to submerge their tired bodies and let stress dissipate into the clear, crisp air.
Drive northwards out of town to Koo, the famous farming area, where the immaculate, fertile lands burst with the very best apricots and peaches. It is here where memories of childhood come rushing to mind. Memories of family gatherings around the ‘galley-blik’ on winter nights, when we took turns re-telling old jokes; and of trees hanging over fences waiting for their fruit to be picked. Thankfully, little has changed.
Follow Prof Jansen on Twitter: @JJ_UFS