The Weird and the Wonderful (Part 1 of 2) -Day 356
We met with the weird and wonderful today. And what a day it was. So much I've split the blog into two!
I had read that Graaff-Reinet has a Nursery with over 7,000 species of cacti and succulents. As it was just up the road, we walked there, passing eight young lads playing their brass instruments and neat rows of houses all painted in beautiful bright colours. We reached the Obesa Nursery where a very strange sign greeted us, implying that the owner didn’t like the current US President. Straight away we sensed that this would be an interesting place. We walked in and found the owner to pay our entrance fee. Johan is a man of mature years with a white wild Father Christmas beard, “You’d better walk around first, you may not like it!” he announced. Johan shared that he used to be a defence lawyer and upon retirement, he stopped shaving and vowed never to wear a suit again. Eccentric is, to put it, mildly, I think we’re going to get along with him just fine.
He directed us where to walk…down to the palm tree, turn left, then along to the pink pot, turn left. His garden is packed full of unusual cacti, some over 50 years old, many flowering with large white or red flowers. A sight to behold. We carefully made our way along a labyrinth of narrow paths, trying to avoid the long needles, passing cacti and succulents of all shapes and sizes, some towering above us. It really was an incredible place, like being in another world; magical with these weird and wonderful plants and the sun piercing through, despite the chill in the air. It was 30 degrees a couple of days ago here, now only 17 degrees!
As well as these spikey plants, there were a few trees dotted around giving some shade. One tree was unusual, with long succulent type thongs covered in red flowers and further up in the tree were large pods. We later found out this is called a “Sausage” Tree and is used by the indigenous medicine men for various ailments.
We next walked through to the nursery with thousands of tiny plants. This is one of the largest privately owned nurseries of its type in the world. Johan grows his own stock from seed and supplies these and the baby cacti to collectors all over. (Apart from the USA I can imagine!)
After our stroll, we sat with Johan on upturned buckets and put the world to rights. He started to talk about how we experience life. Hang on a minute, that’s my bag! It transpired that he has read many books the same as me, and his favourite is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Now, you may think he was a gentle spiritual man – No, he was an absolute nutter in the nicest possible way. We had such a laugh with him, hearing all about his antics over the years. Let’s just say we think he may be away with the fairies quite a bit of the time, but also a very clever and passionate man. We discovered that he was very selective who he would talk too. As we sat there, enjoying the conversation, a few more visitors arrived, but they weren’t greeted as warmly as we were. He said he is very astute as to people’s character, which is a lovely compliment as he spent a long time with us.
Johan recommended that we went to visit Auntie Evelyne in Nieu-Bethesda. I had heard of this place as it has a famous museum called The Owl House there. He told us that Auntie Evelyne is an exceptional person. She lives in the nearby township and feeds many of the local children as well as fostering a few. We love to meet interesting people, so walked back to the Airbnb and got into the car for the 50-minute drive….See Part 2