very same thing that conjures up the longing to return. The seaside town of Hermanus has that ability to etch an unforgettable picture in your memory.
Situated in the Overberg region of Western Cape, the town was founded in the 19th century by shepherd and teacher Hermanus Pieters.THE one thing that makes a lasting impression after leaving a place is usually the
From its historical origins of a fishing town, Hermanus has transformed into a hybrid of natural splendour, up-market hotels and restaurants on Walkerbay.
There are many reasons why people keep going back to Hermanus. Some have holiday homes there, others want to bask in the beauty of the lush fynbos hills while some want to feast on the sea food. There are also tourist adventures such as shark diving, abseiling and the very popular whale watching.
On a Saturday afternoon sitting at Café Fusion, I observe a patch of grass where children are playing on a wooden jungle gym and an artist sketches his bald, middle-aged subject beneath the shade of a large green umbrella.
A few tourists stand against the wooden railings with their cameras hoping to spot the whales. Whale season begins in June and ends sometime in December.
But my mission has been to get in touch with the official whale crier of Hermanus, an interest sparked by Zakes Mda’s novel, The Whale Caller.
In Mda’s book, the whale caller is a middle-aged recluse who lives in a small cottage where he spends his time summoning a southern white whale he has named Sharisha.
The tourist office appointed an official whale crier in 1992. There has been five criers since then and Erick Davalala is the current one . Dressed in a black hat and dark sunglasses, 23-year-old Davalala is quite the expert. Unlike Mda’s protagonist, he relishes the attention of curious tourists.
“I am the whale crier, the only one in the world,” he says with pride.
Davalala struts around Walkerbay stopping every now and then to pose for photographs with tourists. Armed with his specially crafted kelp horn, Davalala alerts people every time he spots a whale in the ocean.
As I walk along the main road, I hear reggae tunes in the distance. My suspicions point towards a club, but as I turn the corner, I see that the music is coming from a rather colourful store selling tie-dye skirts, printed T-shirts and CDs.
On the bright-pink sign above the cluttered entrance reads; Funky Vibes: Global-Sights & Things.
The store owners David Lowe and Colleen Thonissen say that they have been running the store for seven years.
“We started with R200, a month’s rent and no car,” laughs Colleen.
David, who also hosts the reggae Upsetter Show on Whale Coast FM on Saturday nights, dances behind the counter while changing CDs.
Colleen and David agree that Hermanus is a beautiful place and they wish that people would stick around longer.
“There is a wonderful diversity of fauna and flora at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. There are plants there that you won’t find anywhere else in the world,” David boasts.
An invitation for drinks from Colleen takes us to the Fisherman’s Cottage, a vintage restaurant with a small bar.
The petite bartender says that the building has been around since 1877. The chef from the restaurant next door joins us and we spend part of the night talking small-town politics. And I know instantly, that I will always come back to Hermanus, to bask in the beauty of the rocky beach and to spend time with the interesting characters there.