Thursday, 24 June 2010

The girl ghost

It’s a long journey (about 10 hours) to Nieu-Bethesda from Riebeek-Kasteel, so by the time Tanya and I arrived we were very tired. We were directed to our cottage, Aandster, and it was bloody cold, so we immediately set about lighting a fire and opening some red wine.

And then we, you know, sat about jawing and opening another bottle of wine until the sheep came home. (This is sheep, not cow, country – I can still taste our host Katrin’s succulent slow-roasted Karoo lamb, mmmmm.)

So we got to bed at about 2am, a little the worse for wear. (Hey, we’d come a long way!)

There was a girl in my room – a teenager, very angsty. I am used to this – I have a sometimes-angsty teenage girl of my own at home. But I’m not entirely comfortable with it in spirit form, and particularly not when my own spirit levels are quite so high.

So I abandoned my bedroom and went and slept in the lounge.

The next morning Tanya admitted to having resorted to sleeping with a crystal in her hand – she too had felt a not-entirely-happy presence in the house. (And no, we had not discussed the possibility of ghosts in any way, shape or form before stumbling off to bed.)

This isn’t madly surprising. The very isolated village of Nieu-Bethesda, in a narrow, fertile valley in the Sneeuberg mountains of the Eastern Cape in the vast Karoo semi-desert of South Africa, is situated – like many small towns in South Africa – on what was originally a farm. There were communities around here for ages before it finally gained municipal status in the late 1800s – there’s a spring that bubbles out of the mountain, and water in this region is scarce, so it was a lodestone in the area. It has a long history.

Aandster, the house we stayed in (as related by Jakob, on a donkey-drawn-cart traverse we did of the town; Jackob addressed his lovely little donkeys as ‘my kêrels’, ‘my darlings’), was once the grocer’s dwelling. Who knows what human dramas unfolded in it, but both Tanya and I picked up the echoes of, well, something.

The local graveyard – which we visited on a day that was so cold it took balls to get out the car – is filled with sweet sentiment. From the gravestone of ‘the man who listens’ to the rough stone dedicated to a ‘dear friend’, from a child’s final resting place (born and died on the same day) to Helen’s owl memorial, it told lots of stories. The same names came up repeatedly – this is a very small community.

The one Boer War memorial (1901) is interesting in that it stands solo here – all the other Boer War graves are on a nearby farm, and you have to get permission to visit them.

I took Johann’s advice and asked the girl ghost for permission to stay in (what I imagine was) her room, and she didn’t bother us for the rest of the time we stayed in Aandster.

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abhas@numismatology said...

wow nice blog hope u would like to visit mine also

ali g said...

I had to abandon the bedroom and sleep on the loungeroom couch last night ghost...just got kicked out for snoring...again

Muriel said...

Hi Abhas. Thanks for stopping by. I know very little about coins but your blog looks interesting.

Hi Ali G. My housemate on the Karoo trip is also a, um, noisy sleeper. Perhaps that's why the ghost was in my room, not hers?