Newcastle. Every South African Indian has a family member, or at the least extended family, who lives in Newcastle. It’s just like that… tell people you’re from Newcastle and they’ll always know someone here. Even if it’s their Granny’s second cousins mother-in-law, across South Africa our ancestors generally came from here or lived nearby. Newcastle might very well be the cradle of Indian-kind in South Africa.
I didn’t always live here. I was born here (so was my dad), but my parents settled in the Eastern Cape just 6 months after I made my first appearance. The aloe bushes and thorn trees of the Amatola are the more real part of my heritage – the parts that my memory can confirm. The Jacaranda lined roads that bathed the streets in a sublime purple and the old veranda-fronted houses that stood behind them are my best childhood memories of good old frontier country.
So how the heck did I end up back in the small town I was birthed into? By marriage. I married a guy from here – always a funny story to tell. Funnier still, our kids now have a Kaapie twang mixed with the rolling tongue of South African Indian. As for my own Kaapie twang – nonexistent.
Apart from the zaniness of everyday life here, Newcastle is, well… a good place to raise children. The community is small and you can literally get anywhere by car in roughly five minutes. I’ve decided I’ll be using my blog for a while to punt my new (old) home town. This place somehow gets left off maps and is never listed anywhere! If this were America, we’d probably be smack in the middle of Route 66. Nowhere land. I’m changing that.
Newcastle’s raw scenery and mountain ranges are absolutely breath-taking! It’s weather is extreme, it’s central town is impressive, and it’s infrastructure is advanced. There is nothing really lacking in this place. Not even small town mentality, but hey, don’t ever call it a town! It’s a city! The biggest one you’ll find for miles either side of it, too.
We’ve camped in the bush, braaied out at the dam, stood under the waterfalls. On one side of the road my neighbour sells farm-cut chickens, on the other side another neighbour sews, my son attends a play school a block away, and there’s a convenience store right across the road from my house! We live in a neighbourhood of convenience and all our neighbours are like family. It’s a fulfilling life to live.
An excellent place to live a life of self-sustainability. From one hippie to another (or not, if you’d prefer) this small town is an ideal place for nature lovers and country enthusiasts! We’re living the farm life without the extra work.
Our home is approximately 100 years old, an old railway house surrounded by an admirable amount of land for such convenient surroundings. All the yards around here have fruit trees planted many moons ago. Without any effort on our own part, we’ve harvested nectarines, naartjies, lemons, mint, spring onion, and beans! People around here grow pomegranates, oranges, blackberries, figs, and peaches to name just a few. The soil is clay-y and makes for excellent food production. But…
For some reason, I have not come across any organic farmers farmers markets. I have no clue why, and it could be that I’m looking in the wrong places for them. There are a few other cons to the place that obviously can’t be ignored. The streets aren’t as clean as they should be and illegal dumping is quite an issue. Vacant land is almost always used for dumping garbage and natural waste bins along the river are filled with any and every kind of unwanted thing. There was a crime syndicate operating in the area a while back and every now and again crime rears it’s ugly head, but our neighbourhood watch has done extremely well in giving us peace of mind and making sure we are safe.
The latter, I think, is a national problem that we face in South Africa and should be addressed as such. As for dumping if you keep your own plot clean and call on authorities whenever you see dumping, I’m pretty sure this could be eliminated.
This is a beautiful city that generally has the influence on people to live a life closer to nature. I’m trying for waste-free and self-sufficient. Living simply means no one would suspect you of having anything to steal from, and I think my railroad ranch bears testament to that. Thus the cons don’t take much away from the beauty of this place, and when you’re out in the mountains, staring out across the land, absorbing the splendour and geographical euphoria none of the small things matter. It’s just you and the earth. And that is rally all that anyone needs.
Watch this space as I explore my city and show you the gateway to the Drakensberg and the cradle of my ancestors :)