In the dusty street leading past the green façade of McGregor Backpackers, three dogs scampered towards me. Two of them with only three legs. Before I could decide how to react a woman unfolded herself from where she was busy gardening. “Don’t worry. They are very friendly,” she reassured me with a smile, as they slobbered around me. From her I learned about the house on the corner, where the interior was rebuilt to house a small theatre, where movie nights and intimate soirees are held; about the potter down the road who regularly receives visitors and clients from overseas and whose pots are a must see, even though they are shockingly expensive; and how they ended up owning the backpackers and that, although she and her husband are semi-retired, they have never worked harder. Yet, they love every moment of life in this little town enclosed by the Langeberg mountains, and surrounded by vineyards, fresh air and an expansive sky.
Just down the road, I passed by the Temenos Retreat Centre, which spans a whole block, and slipped inside for a delicious breakfast at Tebaldi’s on the covered stoep (porch) with a view over part of their magnificent gardens. One can wander through these enchanting gardens or meditate in one of its many nooks and crannies if there is no retreat, but during my visit a silent retreat was in progress, and all I had was a teaser of the magic that lies behind its high white-washed walls. So I sipped my coffee, nibbled on the delicious croissant they bake fresh when ordered, paged through one of the coffee table books that forms part of their book collection, and did my best to soak up all of the good vibrations it has to offer.
Refreshed I ventured down the main street for a bout of shopping. I couldn’t resist buying a vibrant red sun hat and wooden necklace, before immersing myself in a world filled with olives. Annalien from the Villagers Farm Stall, where she sells a wide array of products, including her own olive products from their farm Rhebokskraal, is talkative and friendly. Half an hour after I entered this delightful shop I stumbled outside, arms laden with olive products and a couple of bottles of her fresh grape juice, individually made from Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz grapes. The flavours are unique, intense and rich. In them I taste the earth, the sky, the air, and love.
It is a small, diverse community that calls McGregor home, and as I spent the day walking its dusty streets, interacting with the locals, I learned that it is also a place that embraces each resident and his/her talents. There is too much to do and see in the expanse of one day in what, at first glance, appears to be a sleepy town. I felt disappointed when I had to leave, as it is a place one should not rush through, but allow the peace and beauty of the surroundings to slowly sink into one’s soul.
For places to stay in McGregor, visit the following website.