We entered the town and initially we weren’t too excited about it. We could see some of the typical houses amidst other (newer) houses and businesses but missed the feel of Wupperthal and Elim. Until we came to the end of the main road and saw the signage to the historical centre. That was what we had been looking for.
After we parked Trokkie under the magnificent oak trees in front of the church, we ambled around the square. We got to chat to a lady standing outside of one of the historical houses. Turned out she was the pastor’s wife and when we asked if we could just park our truck there for the night we got showered with hospitality: advice to move the truck in front of their home (extra safety), allowing us to fill up our water tanks and introducing us to various people working within the museum and tourist setting of the historical square.
Shortly afterwards her son came home and before we knew we were invited for a walk into the valley behind the historical church square. His little daughter was happy to come along and chatted happily along the way. He showed us the past youth centre, which was now dilapidated but still had the mosaic of the Agnus Dei standing against the wall. He showed the dam and the river and talked about the economic challenges in the community.
We walked back when the moon was rising over the valley.
Next morning our little chatterbox friend was already waiting outside the truck to be our guide for the morning and took us around the sites around town. She was smart and knowledgeable and full of interesting and scary stories. We went to the museum and the cottage with its very extensive historical collection and displays, the church, the graveyard and the Koi hut display. The watermill and canals are unfortunately mostly in disrepair and the blacksmith had his day off. In the printing house we saw some very interesting documentation about the Afrikaans language and later in the info shop we saw a print condemning the use of alcohol.
Unfortunately, due to covid 19, various of the historical buildings were closed.
When we returned to our truck, an older gentleman, Mr Balie, walked up to us. Seems he was the historian who worked for the museum for the past 50 years. Listening to him, one could figure out this had been his passion through and through. And- on our visit in the museum earlier that morning- we had seen that. We haven’t seen many museums in South Africa that have such an extensive collection of artefacts as what we saw at Genadendal. (With all respect, we made the comparison with the three Hermanus musea, where we had been just a few days before- and those paled into comparison with these ones.)
While chatting to Mr. Balie, the little girl offered us some birthday cake… her birthday had been two days before. Talk about hospitality!
By then it was time for us to go, but we vouched we would come back one day!
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