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Niel van Deventer and family
Niel with his dog

To drive to Klein-Kariba and swim back

Niel van Deventer is well known – as film producer (of among others Dis ek, Anna), musician in the group, Zinkplaat, and nowadays also as a dad. Like many other well-known people, he also likes to share his fond memories of some of the ATKV’s most popular resorts, Buffelspoort, Klein-Kariba and Goudini Spa.

Seeing that I grew up in the Transvaal in the eighties, holidays to me meant only two things. Decembers we were off to the sea and these memories always pop up first.  Those were church camps. In between those holidays, we were off to Klein-Kariba or Buffelspoort every year since I was five. 

My dad promised that he would teach me how to swim. I kept on nagging him for weeks. I couldn’t wait. I counted the days, made plans, and asked my older brother for advice. I was ready to learn, because being able to swim would also open the world of super tubes.

At last we packed for the holiday, and my granny and granddad joined us. My granddad had bought a watermelon a few days before and had put it in his fridge. He kept on reminding us about it. How simple life wasn’t back then! That the smell of chlorine, watermelon and freshly mowed lawn on a Friday afternoon could be so heavenly …

My mom and dad picked us up at school and we left straight away. It was about two hours’ drive from our home in Hartbeespoort and we couldn’t contain ourselves. As soon as we arrived, we quickly unpacked and dashed off to the swimming pool. I can’t remember on which day my dad at last allowed me to swim on my own, and if I even managed to get onto the super tube during that holiday. All I know, it was the start of freedom and in a sense the end of feeling safe. 

Many trips followed, and I specifically remember how my gran and I, shortly after my granddad’s passing away in 2005, sat on the veranda of the rondavel at Buffelspoort, talking about him till four o’clock in the morning. 

I remember the midnight swim in Goudini Spa’s pleasant warm water one winter just before my aunt’s wedding in Worcester. I also remember girls and camping and falling in love and first beers (once we were old enough, at last) and friends smoking in secret and a near fistfight with Eden supporters. We were jolling and making a racket and were silenced by angry toppies. (My dad once ordered someone at two o’clock in the morning to switch off their Stoutgattreffers). Late one evening, in the heated swimming pool at Klein-Kariba, I fell in love with a girl from Vanderbijlpark. Yes, we lost our hearts, and we stopped counting how often we went down the super tube. We watched and played cricket. We had soft serve ice cream and delicious meals on that old veranda at Buffelspoort where it still sometimes feels as if Paul Kruger will come pass any moment on his carriage en route to Rustenburg.

But funny enough, nothing has ever tasted as sweet or delicious as that watermelon of my granddad on our first holiday at Klein-Kariba in the summer of 1989.