Yesterday, I visited one of Knysna's townships in a quest to find a local Rastafari settlement that was supposedly hiding amongst all of those tin roofs and worn paths. Accompanying me were a couple of foreigners I'd met earlier that day, and we were all armed with an enthusiasm for tourism that would make even the most camera-keen, flower-clothed, barefoot island traveller cringe with embarrassment.
Townships and people from outside South Africa are like oppositely-charged poles in a gigantic supermagnet array. They possess a certain attraction to several colloquial delights that I, as a local, simply cannot understand. I was keen for the Rasta vibe, to be certain, but the sight of a township itself is not something that I find terribly exotic.
Mind you, not enough people – both locally and abroad – really know what a township is actually like. Visiting a location like this is very different to watching a documentary or news report. Highlights and once-off photographs do well to emphasis particular emotions and deliver an audience something that they expect or even want, but most reports rarely give the full picture unless it's full of drama and stereotypical imagery.
Deciding against the R300 tourism levy for a guide around the township, we grabbed a taxi ride from the Knysna taxi ranks for about eight bucks and a few minutes later found ourselves in the middle of Judah Square, the Rastafari neighbourhood within the Knysna township.
The community in the township is full of exceptionally friendly people, and we were invited to sit down with a few gentlemen outside their house, share some tea and chat for a while. Contrary to popular opinion, Rastafari isn't all about weed and Bob Marley music, and I was exposed to a fascinating belief system and way of thinking through my conversations with these folks. I was escorted to their worship site, where I was able to snap a few pics and pose with the man who'd volunteered as our guide.
Also, they all have really cool hair.
After visiting the township, I decided to break my noodles-'n'-peanuts regime for a night and joined some friends at a local oyster bar to try some of Knysna's famous oysters. This was a rather bold venture for me: not only have I never eaten an oyster before, but I also happen to have a deep and sincere hatred of almost all seafood.
Because it was ceremony (and because everybody else was being fancy) I also decided to accompany my oyster consumption with a glass of semi-sweet white wine. Never again. Not only do I find most – if not all – forms of alcohol absolutely and unforgivably vile, but my body also has the chemical tolerance of a particularly poorly fieldmouse.
The combination of oysters and wine left me feeling a bit less than perfect, but I treated myself to a hearty Spur dinner afterwards to get the taste of sea and fancy booze out of my mouth. A pretty good day overall.