The Storyteller Heading

Just Knock on the Tree

The Odyssey of the Coddiwompling Tortoise – Rozinante – and The Storyteller

(Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.)

The Glue in the Marico Community

Coming down to earth from telling you about the festival was a little hard to do but there were other things I kept to share with you. Important things – let us say it is the glue that keeps this community together.

Creativity is so important for young minds and this budding Marico artist is making the most of it. Image by Hermien Webb.

For starters, the Groot Marico River itself is rich in minerals and the water itself so clean it’s the only river left in South Africa from which you can drink. That’s definitely something to boast about. There are also 200 different trees here and after Kwa-Zulu Natal, has the highest variety of birds in the country.

Many battles have been fought between greedy miners and this passionate community. Fortunately, the latter has always triumphed. Promising non-existent jobs for the locals is often how fraudulent mining companies have tried to inveigle their way into this pristine area.

Making bread has never been so much fun as in this school day out in the Marico. Image by Hermien Webb.

The Marico region has even been registered as a biosphere by UNESCO, with the proud community determined to have it remain so. The people there have a reason to be proud.

It’s interesting to note that there are 669 biospheres worldwide and South Africa has 10.
Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve 1998, Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve 2000, Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region 2001, Waterberg Biosphere Reserve 2001, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve 2007, Vhembe Biosphere Reserve 2009, Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve 2015, Magaliesberg Biosphere 2015, Garden Route Biosphere Reserve 2017 and since 2018 the Marico Biosphere Reserve.

Hermien’s cameras are almost a part of her anatomy and smiling a big part of her personality.

So what goes on in this little unprepossessing town during the week? More than I imagined. Apart from Santa and Egbert manning the Visitors’ Centre, in their eyrie. Oh, yes, there are more than a few stairs to climb to get up there. A good excuse for cardio workouts because you won’t find a glitzy gym around any corner. Dare I say, thank goodness? If you ask Hermien Webb, the keen photographer there, she is one of many who doesn’t miss the big city. She had the same reaction as I had after only a short time in the town – she knows her neighbours – something she never did before.

Santa used to be a social worker and helping people still runs in her blood. Rarely a day goes by when she isn’t darting around somewhere doing various things for others and organising others to help as well. A heart of gold is the label I would pin on her.

Egbert and Santa listen to Maggie Cooper sing her self-composed song of Bosman’s tragic life, with her husband Colin on sound, at River Still Guest Farm, on the last day of the festival. Image by Judy Barnes.

Egbert is considered as the town’s philosopher, dropping pearls of wisdom into many people’s ears. People stop by for chats frequently and it never seems to be a bother. Have I told you Egbert’s reply to the story I heard from someone who asked him why he only seemed to have one pair of shoes? He calmly replied, “Well, I only have one pair of feet.” This type of humour is the stuff of Bosman’s tales when he encapsulated the locals’ brand of humour in his novels.

I must have been meant to visit this little town as I discovered one day, way back when, that Bosman had also lived two blocks away in my suburb in Johannesburg. Perhaps I was meant to be walking in his footsteps for some reason. Having said that, Groot Marico is frequently written about because of Bosman’s quirky characters. I only know I stood outside the house he used to live in and tried to soak up any residual writing talent he might have left behind in the ether. However, it occurred to me that the present owners might also have noticed me through the window and thought I was stalking them or something so I retreated. Well, it makes for a good story, doesn’t it? As a writer, I’m expected to be ‘off the wall’ – even if it’s just a little bit.

Further down the street I would meet a mechanical engineer called Colin Cooper. I wondered what he had in store. I was not to be disappointed.

Join Judy Bees Mailing List

Get notified of new blog posts.

Hi, I’m Judy

My maiden name was Hawkins and perhaps that explains why I love travelling. Sir John Hawkins, who sailed for Queen Elizabeth I, was supposed to be related to me. Possibly, that may only be a fanciful notion on the part of my late father and in any case, I can’t be overly proud of the fact. Hawkins was responsible for discovering the use of tobacco by the Native Americans, returning to England with it and the process of smoking in 1565. Not to mention the dreadful fact that he was also a slave trader.

Perhaps none of us knows a lot about our ancestors. I grew up in the days when a person’s personal business was just that – personal. I like it that way but in this Blog you can peek around the edges of my life. I am a non-smoker and only raise a glass of champagne on special occasions. Otherwise … well, I’d like to think you’ll find me interesting.


  1. Charl Durand

    Nice one Judy 🙂

  2. Sheryl Bradfield

    Always something interesting and quirky to share with us, thanks Judy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top