Before I tell you about our stay at Cradock’s tuishuise… I just wanted to share some photos of a very strange little town that we drove through on the way to Cradock.

It happened quite by accident.  Darryl (the book festival organiser) had recommended a stop at the “Springfontein Padstal”.   A padstal, for those of you who aren’t South African,  is an Afrikaans word – directly translated as “road-shop” or “road-store”… and most of them are awesome!  Padstals (unlike the gaudy, supersized petrol-ports with their attached fast food franchises)… are independently owned roadside havens situated alongside almost all of South African’s major travel routes.  They’re where you stop for a stretch of the legs, a bite to eat and a bathroom break – and they usually sell all kinds of homemade goodies and crafty-things made (or baked) by nearby locals.

Anyhoo… I’m rambling (again)…

So… while we were searching for Darryl’s recommended padstal… we took the wrong exit and ended up driving the streets of Springfontein.

I’m not sure how to describe Springfontein – so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.  All I can say is this:  it’s like an almost ghost town.  We saw people… but very few.  The streets were mostly deserted and, for the most part, we were the only car on the road.  It felt like a forgotten corner of the world… but yet… so interesting.  I loved the textures… the faded colours… the feeling that we’d discovered something unusual… off-the-beaten-track.  Literally.

A wrong turn provided us with a fascinating mini-excursion into one of the Karoo’s lesser known towns.  If you’re like us and enjoy these kinds of sights… take the Springfontein offramp (just a couple of kilometres outside of Colesberg if you’re approaching from Joburg).  Here’s some photos:

PS:  We ended up finding the padstal that Darryl recommended.  It was further on down the N1… a couple of kilometres after the first Springfontein exit.

PPS:  If you want to see more photos of various Karoo towns and sights, I’ve started an album on Flickr where you can browse loads more pics.  Click here.