Restful in De Rust
Many a weary traveller has found respite in the shade of the Swartberg Mountains that tower over the small village of De Rust. As the idyllic-sounding name suggests, the small village came into being in 1899 on a spot that served as an important rest stop for farmers about to brave the breathtaking Meiringpoort on route to trade at the coast. The coastal-bound farmers, having navigated the winding path through Meiringspoort, would have had rich tales to barter with, some true, but most imagined – the mystifying route through the mountains having woven an enticing thread around the hearts of otherwise sane men. And yet, one can in truth not blame these men, for having travelled here once, it is easy to believe in stories of a waterfall and a deep pool hidden in the mountains, home to a mythical mermaid.
Contemporary travellers who visit De Rust today will find that it is far removed from the sleepy hamlet once encountered by travellers. Having experienced vital rejuvenation in recent years, De Rust has flourished. Nowadays the town beckons tourists to walk around and peer into interesting shops and restaurants. The main street has become adorned with store-fronts offering an array of products that range from various works of art to locally-produced kayaks. And yet, despite the obvious modernization that De Rust has experienced in some areas, it has also maintained much of its original appeal as a ‘place of rest’. The fact that a nationwide competition recently conferred on it the distinguished title of ‘Town of the Year’ serves as a testament to the town’s old-school appeal. Visitors can expect slow living, patience, a feeling of neighbourliness and a rare valuing of what has become seemingly unimportant in our fast-paced lives. De Rust reminds us that we often deprive ourselves of the pleasure that can be derived from a contemplative moment, from lingering a while. Ultimately, modern-day De Rust offers exactly what the name suggests, a little bit of rest, a quiet getaway in a quaint little village that can none the less still keep the well-rested visitor entertained for a couple of hours. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to experience some of the mystical allure that captured the imaginations of those early farmers.