From town to town

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On the road again

People often ask me, “So, where do you live?” Now, to answer them, is quite difficult.

The thing with varsity students is that, after they have been studying for a while, some of them feel that the city where they’re studying is where they are actually living, but if someone from your own varsity asks you where you live they obviously refer to your hometown. It is sometimes best not to get too technical.

When I get this question, especially from people I’ve just met (Tip: it’s a good convo starter), I’ve got my answer ready and it quite fills my turn to speak: I live on a Correctional Services farm, Waterval, just outside Utrecht – that is if I stay at my father’s for the holiday. I usually get a frown at this point – although most people know about Correctional Services they have no clue where Waterval might be close to. Then I continue, it is about 30 km from Utrecht. I ask them if they have ever been to Utrecht, if they say no, I keep on going. It is almost in the middle of Vryheid and Newcastle, approximately 70 km from each of these towns, North-West KwaZulu-Natal. I use my hand to show that it is near the border of the province. Find it on the map.

Now, for me it is a five hour drive from Potchefstroom to Waterval. It is a lot of time spent on the road. So what do you do? Well, the first, quite polite thing to do, is to talk with the people with you in the car, but after a lot of chit chat the conversation starts to slow down and it is then the driver’s (or the passenger in front – depending on the shotgun rules) cue to turn up the volume of the music. It is always great to have a set playlist than to listen to the radio station (the scratchiness can be irritating). The volume is usually turned up or down as someone randomly has to say something. Now the other thing one can do is to look outside your window and enjoy the view. In South Africa we have beautiful landscape views along the main roads.  Here are some of the photos I have taken from my recent trip back to varsity…


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On the way to Vrede

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40 more km’s

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A beautiful old church in Vrede

Even though our end destination wasn’t Vrede it was quite an experience taking some time just to see the town. It would be great to make every trip an official road trip. Driving home for the holidays, or driving back when varsity starts doesn’t have to be boring. Ask the people going with you if the can pack a snack or two or bring some extra cash so that you will be able to make some pit stops on your way. Visit a museum in one town and a coffee shop in the next. Don’t just pass these towns on your way. We’re always in such a hurry to get to the places we need to be. Take some time and plan each trip so that you will be able to see more. Even if it means that you leave a day earlier.

Stop – just breathe for a moment.

Until next time






Black Coffee

IMG_20150824_184441Black coffee may be something that most Europeans (and a lot of other people) enjoy. But back here in South Africa most people drink instant coffee which doesn’t taste as good if you do not add milk and sugar. I grew up in a family where coffee is something we drink everyday. My father drinks up to twelve cups of coffee a day. Following his example I started to drink coffee when I was 10 years old and soon drank just as much as he did. We had instant coffee in the house and I was fine drinking it for almost nine years until I came to university and started to drink filter coffee. Drinking this amount of coffee with two spoons of sugar was a lot of sugar intake per day. I decided to lessen it by drinking only one spoon of sugar with my coffee. This made me think that I could just as well get used to no sugar at all. There are a lot of disadvantages in drinking too much sugar. It was not that I necessarily wanted to make healthy lifestyle choices, I just wanted to enjoy the taste of coffee, and coffee only, a little more.

After a month of drinking sugarless coffee I decided to try my coffee without milk. It took quite a while to get used to the taste and today I drink my coffee black and bitter. Some of my friends still ask me, “Doesn’t it taste bad?” then I tell them, “As soon as you start drinking your coffee this way you won’t be able to drink it any other way.” I visited one of my friends who added some sugar to my coffee and it was horrible. It is also during some of these visits that I have to drink instant coffee. There are only certain types of instant coffees I would dare to drink, because some of them takes like really bad tea. I am really not a snob, but somethings in life are not worth compromising, and why should one?

I am also no coffee connoisseur but I know when I am drinking a good cup of coffee. The richness, the taste, the aroma – everything just blends well. Black coffee tastes amazing with some freshly baked goods and the very cliche croissant(something only becomes a cliche because of its popularity). And as I mentioned there are also some health benefits to drinking black coffee (click on the link to read and find out what they are). Try something new and maybe you will be surprised by the outcome. It may be that you even like it more than you thought you would. I always thought that black coffee must be the most disgusting thing one can drink, but alas, today it is one of the pleasures I wake up to each morning. It is like a ritual drinking my coffee – waking up, making coffee in either my coffee machine or plunger (it depends if I overslept or not), taking a shower giving the coffee time to finish up, and finally pouring the cup of coffee filling my nose with the amazing aroma’s of filter coffee.

This is how I start my day! What gets you up in the morning? Start to enjoy the small pleasures in life, it may end up being the greatest things in your life.

Keep it real.


To start, I would like to call on all the readers out there. I am an Afrikaans speaking person and write in Afrikaans, pray in Afrikaans and dream in Afrikaans. I am making this blog post in English though.

One would think that people wouldn’t want to speak English in South Africa, especially as an Afrikaans native because the English oppressed the South Africans for quite a while, but that is certainly not the case. If one looks at the different countries that were previously colonised by European countries one would think that the natives will despise them to such an extent that they wouldn’t want to speak the language that they were forced to speak. The same as the Englishmen did with the South Africans. Nonetheless, English is the ‘lingua franca’ of South Africa. Read more about the history of English.

I sometimes feel that Afrikaans and all the other African languages has to compete with English in the South African context.  One should take into consideration that we live in the Age of Technology and the Age of Social Media. It is inevitable for human beings to find a language that everyone will understand, especially living in a global city. Therefore, I am a proud Afrikaans speaker, but also thankful that I know the global language so that I will be able to communicate and understand the world around me. Not only to have another perspective regarding my initial views and ideologies of life but also to be able to enjoy the literature and communicate with others in South Africa and around the globe.

I had English as a major in my first and second year at university and the books they exposed us to could be compared to one word in a whole dictionary. There are so many good books out there, in both Afrikaans and English, and I think I will die someday still wishing I have read a thousand more books. I try to read as much as I can, no matter what type of reading I am doing as long as I am reading. It opens doors to many places one wouldn’t have been able to imagine. And most of all it also helps you to relax.

I recently attended the launch of romantic novels. I am really not a big fan of this type of literature, but Creative Writing is one of the modules I’m taking as part of my studies and it is good to be familiar with all the genres available out there. The authors mentioned that they are not writing a literary intriguing novel but the average Joe, or Suzy in this case, would enjoy the book because it is only mindless reading and they would easily get carried away. Not every book you read has to be difficult or something with great literary value, as long as you read and support the art of published books. Not only to escape and fantasize but also to take a break and relax!

Until next time.

DJ Cloete