It was a beautiful Friday in April 2015. My husband and I had spent the last couple of days in a reserve in Kruger National Park. That Friday, however, we had rented a car to explore the countryside. We traveled to see the gorgeous Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, and were now driving along R532 on our way to God’s Window.
We were quite hungry as we spotted a sign for a restaurant. The Potluck Boskombuis, a South African Bush Kitchen. We traveled down a dirt road that reminded me of red clay. Dark storm clouds were rolling in and were now almost on top of us. To me, it just added more thrill and beauty to the rugged environment. As I saw the bridge to cross the Treur River, I stopped the car. The bridge ahead seemed to be made of wooden planks covered with dirt and the potholes revealed broken planks. I wondered if the bridge would hold the weight of the car. It looked a bit scary to me; yet that added to the excitement and adventure of eating in a bush kitchen. I put the car back in gear and on we went.
The setting of the restaurant couldn’t be more beautiful. It was an outdoor restaurant. There were only a few tables under a wooden and plastic covering. The chairs were tree trunks. The entire setting was nestled between a huge boulder and the river we had just crossed. The food was prepared right next to the tables on an open fire. Really, it was an old tire rim holding the food and a beautiful water kettle. The smell of the smoke added to the ambience.
We had been told that the weather could change quickly in that part of the country. And just as soon as we got out of the car, it started pouring. My sweatshirt and shorts were wet from the short walk from the parking area to the restaurant. The thunder roared above. I was wet and cold and stood next to the fire to get warm. Luckily, our waitress brought me a rooibos tea and, at the same time, offered me a blanket which I gladly accepted. Wrapped in my blanket, sipping the tea, I checked out the short menu. I quickly decided on the steak with pap. I had no idea what pap was, but was eager to taste what I was told was a typical South African dish.
The meal took quite some time to arrive but I was happy sitting in this beautiful, rustic, outdoor environment. The storm had moved on and I took time out to take it all in; the smell of the smoke from the fire pit, the delicious rooibos tea that I had been introduced to during this trip, the sound of the river, the joy of the children running into the river, and the rays of the sun warming my back. Here I was, in a bush kitchen somewhere in South Africa. An experience I’ll always treasure. An experience, I’ll carry with me for a lifetime.