Mampoer Country

So been as busy as Zuma on Father’s day but finally I have a few moments to breathe and write.

And tell you all about the Groot Marico, Herman Charles Bosman and mampoer.

For any of you educated in the South African system you will have been exposed to the author Herman Charles Bosman, the character Oom Schalk Lourens and the area of the Marico.

The Marico district where Herman Charles Bosman once taught and subsequently wrote about is in the North West province and among other things is known for being the birth place of mampoer (a home-distilled brandy/fuck-off strong alcohol).

It was the Photog’s birthday in March and I wanted to surprise him with a weekend away, on a budget, which usually never turns out well.  But I then I remembered a great review I had read on the JHB Live site about a quaint restaurant, A Twist of Lime, in Groot Marico and so I visited the Marico tourism site. To the delight of my bank account I discovered an awful lot of accommodation, at very reasonable prices and booked us in at Riverstill Guest farm.

The Photog was indeed surprised when on the Friday I informed him he was not going to work but was going on a trip. Good start to the weekend.

And it just got better from there.  After a relatively short trip we arrived at the Inligting (Information) Centre and were greeted by a woman who looked as if she had found the true path to inner peace.  And it consisted of a welcoming ritual that involved mampoer. And a vital lesson in how to drink mampoer – take a deep breath, swig it back and hold your breath.  For as long as you can. This lesson would hold us in good stead later on in the weekend.

The friendliness of the local people and their love for mampoer was the theme of the weekend.

A nastier subtext to the weekend was the numerous 8-legged residents we were sharing our accommodation with.  We stayed in a lovely farmhouse right on the Marico river.  Charming and rustic, until the lights came on.  And then I felt like we were in the Marico remake of Arachnophobia.  Bloody great big buggers came out of everywhere and I made the Photog drive me to the nearest petrol station to purchase their deadliest can of Doom. Much spraying, squealing and squelching with shoes ensued until the house was an arachnid free zone.

Of course we met the owner the next day who informed us that he liked to keep the spiders in the house as a natural form of insect control.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him what we’d done to his little friends, I’m sure he found the corpses later.

On Saturday morning we scoured the town’s only street for the restaurant that had sparked off this trip – A Twist of Lime (spider killing is hungry work).  We found it and had a truly delectable brekkie and luckily discovered we had to book for dinner. Also on this lonesome street are some cute and kitschy stores with prezzies for the folks back home.

We then went back to the Inligting Centre and had a mini tour of Herman Charles Bosman’s house.  Well not his actual house as that was situated on a farm further outside of town but was destroyed so the Herman Charles Bosman Literary society erected a replica house.

After the tour we visited one of the various mampoer farms and were entertained by a lovely farmer and his wife, while managing to down about 8 – yes 8 – shots of mampoer.

Another thing we learned – mampoer must be kept in the freezer.  Now you might not think this makes a difference but I swear it’s the only reason we managed to have 8 shots and lived to tell the tale.

An afternoon nap was called for and then onto dinner back at A Twist of Lime.

If anything dinner was even better than brekkie and although the menu was limited to a few choices, each meal was delicious and full of yummy fresh ingredients.

So Groot Marico is definitely worth a stop over. A sleepy little town with some fiery brandy and friendly people, the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway and something different.

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