16 May 2013 by Chris Marais

Travels with chook

Some guy once travelled all over Ireland (both of them) with a small fridge. So I tried touring Mpumalanga with a couple of wood-carved roosters from Mozambique, and it was rather fun.

On the road with my little red rooster...

It was in the Big Wet of 2006, and the normally misty area around Graskop had turned into a glass of grey milk. It was only because of my keen-sightedness for roadside poultry and, I must say, the devilishly-red lips of the roosters, that I spotted them.

It was only because of my keen-sightedness for roadside poultry that I spotted them…

They stood out like ivory sentinels over the road between Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest, quite nicely carved out of what I hoped was not a rare wood. I stopped to take photographs.

Young Lucy Mokoena, the Mozambican stall-minder, was delighted.

'How much?' I asked, pointing at one likely looking lad.

'That one, R150. And that one, R160. It’s a very good price, because it really costs R190.'

Roadside roosters outside Graskop Roadside roosters outside Graskop

The haggling done, we settled down to a chat. Her husband, Dibakoani, carved the cocks and she sold them to passers-by. I loaded three of them into my bakkie and drove off to Pilgrim’s Rest which, incidentally, is the official place of my birth.

I’ve always been a bit embarrassed about my mom having given birth to me in a theme town. Place of birth: Disneyland. Place of birth: Gold Reef City. You get the gist.

Then someone explained to me that I was actually born in nearby Sabie in the district of Pilgrim’s Rest. So my birth certificate is wrong, but I’m not going to stand in a long queue and have it fixed at this stage of my life.

Anyhow, back to Rooster Travel. I liked it so much that five years later, when I was back in the area, I bought another rooster and took it north to Limpopo with me. It cost me only R100 and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a smile. And it caused a great sensation, because this time around I let the rooster ride on the back of the bakkie.

So now I’m ready for that fridge. Maybe I’ll take it up to the Richtersveld, where it can work for a living and keep my beers cool...

Category: Attractions

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