09 August 2014 by Andrea Weiss

South African signs revisited

Any road trip will inevitably turn up a host of unusual signs. Here are a couple that might need a bit of interpretation for first-time visitors ...

So, there was this guy called Ronnie ...

So, there was this guy called Ronnie who had a shop on the popular tourist road, the R62, in the Little Karoo. His friends thought they'd have a little fun and added the word 'sex' to his sign, and it became 'Ronnie's Sex Shop'.

Ronnie's Sex Shop has since been photographed countless times, but not so 'Oom Jans (sic) Sex Shop' (above), which can be found on an even more remote gravel road above the Ouberg Pass outside Montagu. Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery.

If you're sitting around a dinner table in middle-class South Africa, you'll be lucky to escape the inevitable Tim Noakes conversation. Professor Noakes is a sports scientist who has captured the nation's imagination with his high-protein, high-fat, low-carb, low-sugar diet. And clearly the trend has spread to the countryside. This sign (below) was photographed outside the Blue Crane Coffee Shop and Farm Stall near Heidelberg. 

Blue Crane Coffee Shop and Farm Stall

At Affie Plaas outside Robertson you might think they eat people for breakfast. 

After all, a boeremeisje is a farm girl and rooinek is a less-than-complimentary nickname for an Englishman (it comes from the Anglo-Boer War, referring to the sunburn the British soldiers would experience under the hot African sun – hence 'red neck'). 

But in this context, what the sign is advertising is actually bottled fruit preserved in witblits ('white lightning', a kind of distilled spirit). Boeremeisjes are apricots and rooinekke are grapes.

Affie Plaas

What I love about this is the guerilla marketing that is going on at the back of the weight-limit sign on the pontoon that takes vehicles across the Breede River at Malgas. Everyone has a bit of time to spare here.

Malgas pont

In Afrikaans, a bench is a rusbank, which translates roughly into 'rest bench'. This bench was photographed in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, where a chap called Potgieter liked to 'rest'. The joke is that Potgietersrus was also the name of a town (now called Mokopane) in Limpopo, where not a lot happens on any given day.

Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park

When they say 'no swimming' you should take it seriously. Some beaches have strong undertows that can be dangerous. This one's been translated into dodgy German that reads 'stop swimming', just to hammer home the point. Except that might be a bit too late ...

Brenton-on-Sea

There was a tree stump close to the Woodville Big Tree that was used as a decoy for inveterate tree carvers, but then it crumbled away, so the graffiti crew turned their attention to the sign itself. At least the trees are being left alone ...

Woodville Big Tree area

Then there are the animal signs, and you were probably expecting something more conventional, like an elephant crossing. This one was photographed at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (Samrec) in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, where African penguins are rehabilitated.

Image courtesy of Flow Communications

While, at Brenton-on-Lake (on the lake side of Brenton-on-Sea near Knysna) there is a very steep hill down to the lagoon and thick bush all around, hence this graphic warning sign.

Brenton-on-Lake

Wonder what Oom Jan has to say about it all?

Near the Ouberg Pass

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