I follow the bright blue signs of the The Blue Cow that proudly announces its location “at the Barrydale Waterfront”. I wonder what kind of waterfront pin-sized Barrydale can possibly have, yet I feel intrigued as I drive down dusty streets and past beautifully restored old houses with lush gardens. The The Blue Cow’s large covered wooden deck perches on the side of a dam filled with fish, and framed by mountains. Hannette, the owner, encourages me to feed them by handing me a couple of slices of bread. It brings a smile to my face, and we quickly strike up a conversation. She has a knack to make one feel at home, and soon I feel like a local, especially when two of her friends arrive with some local gossip.
“Has the man with the little yellow car been here too?” one asks with a touch of irritation in her voice. “Yes,” Hanette responds, but before she can elaborate, her friend prattles on. “Twenty four hour security! Here, in Barrydale? What is the man thinking? Here we can still leave our doors unlocked when we are not at home. Our neighbours look out for one another. If he starts this nonsense, the criminals will think we have something worth stealing. No! We definitely don’t want his twenty-four hour security!”
Her Afrikaans is flawless, yet her Dutch accent tinges it with a colour and sound that tickle my ears, and soon we chatter away about life in general, and how her and her mom ended up in this tiny South African enclave. Before I know it two hours have flown by.
The people of Barrydale are friendly and welcoming, and as I meander through its dusty streets, I strike up various conversations with people who are keen to tell stories, and show me around. At the trendy Diesel and Crème restaurant the gossip circles around the movie that is being shot there on location and in the area. The staff bristles with excitement, as one or two of their crowd are featuring for more than just a second or two in it.
Later, when I go for supper at the Jam Tarts, I am asked if I am part of the film crew. For a moment I feel exotically foreign, before I have to admit that I am simply passing through. My sudden ordinariness doesn’t deter the staff from chatting or treating me as an important guest, anyway.
At the end of a long day, when I return to the guest house I stay at a short distance out of town, my heart tingles from the warmth the locals exude through simply being proud of where they live, and being generous with their time and stories.