THE place which I live is called Kleinemonde, meaning “small mouth”. Sometimes, I like to call it Bocchina, which is what Kleinemonde is in Italian: boccha, is mouth; bocchina, the diminutive form.
Nancy Murray in her Reflections quotes an earlier traveller who refers to it as “Keine-Montjes”. Later, the two rivers were named the Wellington and the Lynedoch, but we just call them the East River and the West River respectively, which makes it so much easier for everyone, especially if you remember that the sun comes up in the east.
There is another peculiarity about this name, Kleinemonde. For most of the year the rivers do not, in fact, flow into the sea; they are clogged up, like a nose with a bad cold, so that one might think that it would have been more appropriately called Kleineneusie. But, I guess that’s just being mischievous.
The rivers are very low at the moment, but you still see small barges, motor-boats and canoes on them. It is not possible to navigate very far up these rivers; the West river being more suitable for this. Barges can get up-river about five kilometres, and many a nightcap and braai has been enjoyed in this way; canoes are able to venture about nine kilometres upstream – from there groups can hike (with permission) to overnight at Lily Pad, in the Nyala Game Reserve.
Kleinemonde is about fifteen kilometres from Port Alfred – heading towards East London. The first residents are on the West River, between the bridge and the sea; after crossing the bridge, the Island is between the road and the sea and the Peninsula is on the left; after crossing the second bridge, one turns right into the village.
On the left is the Police station; on the right, the well-known Lala Lapa Restaurant, opposite are the shops. Turn left into Nature’s Way and soon you will have the village Church and our Club on the left. To go to the beach, one needs to turn right. The car park has braai facilities, with the East River lagoon below it. From there walks along the beach will take you eastwards to Clayton’s Rocks, the Lighthouse and the Fish River; and westwards to Stinky Bay, Three Sisters and the Riet River.
The other day there was a bit of a flap and a flurry: an old whale carcass had been exposed on the beach between the East River and Clayton’s Rocks. A few nights later, Dave JP told us at the Club that about seventeen years ago a whale had washed up on the beach and, to avoid the stench that follows such an occurrence, they piled a whole heap of sand on it. Now, with the recent powerful, high seas experienced here, it has eventually been laid bare once again – just a bit of skin and bone, and no stench!
They say that after reading an article of about five hundred words the average person’s concentration goes awry, so thank you for your indulgence.
By guest writer, ASH COLLEN