Relaxed and refreshed, we leave the Garden Route behind us, ready for the last lap of our South African adventure, a drive on Route 62 which takes us through miles of Mars-like landscape in hairdryer heat (39 degrees!) on seemingly endless roads. This is the scenic route back to Cape Town through a spectacular region I’d not heard of until this trip called the Little Karoo, otherwise known as the South African desert.
We were greeted at our first stop by a coach load of tourists at an intriguing white stone roadside building, ‘Ronnie’s Sex Shop’ painted on the side in big red letters. What the what? Were these tourists REALLY stopping at a sex shop? I mean, I know the Dutch have a bit of a reputation, but…
We head inside and find a roadside bar serving up well-needed ice-cold beers, not a gratuitous brothel. Phew. Although there is a funny story behind the name of the place, which owner Ronnie tells us about. Meet Ronnie…
Basically, sometime in the 80s, entrepreneurial Ronnie decided to open a little roadside grocers. “It didn’t really work though. Hardly anyone stopped, except my neighbour to say hello now and again, so I shut up shop pretty fast.” With the building empty, for fun, several of Ronnie’s friends decided to ‘sex’ up the shop’s name, buying some red paint and adding in the word themselves – rebranding it Ronnie’s Sex Shop.
Then there’s that collection of bras. Yes bras! Hundreds of them! Hanging down from the ceiling. We’ve found a little museum of bras in the desert! “It started as a joke,” Ronnie says. “One visitor thought it would be funny to leave her mark by signing her bra which I couldn’t find a spot for so hung it up. Then of course once one visitor left one, everyone joined in. Now I’ve hundreds of the things!” So I guess you could call it a sex shop, in the loosest of terms – no pun intended of course.
Feel free to leave an Italian police badge if you don’t have a photo, business card or a bra… It’s no surprise this quirky place has become a massive tourist attraction.
Me leaving the sex shop…
Back on the road (and a little off at times where we found this tractor sitting in the middle of the desert) it wasn’t long before we reached our final stop on this epic adventure. The town of Barrydale, a bohemian jewel in Route 62’s desert crown.
We check into the Karoo Moon Motel, originally built in the late 1800s as a homestead and restored to its original state in 2014, now a modern hotel with pretty rooms for just £19 a night! We booked ours through AirBnB.
Outside it’s a living museum of ‘America Roadside’ culture memorabilia which we wander around aimlessly, staring at the rusty signage and wonderful collection of vintage petrol pumps, but not before grabbing one of the famous milkshakes from the Space Van next to the motel’s diner, Diesel and Creme.
Before reluctantly making our way back to Cape Town to hop on our plane back to London, we dipped our toes into Barrydale, but only have time for a quick drive around where we find lots of Victorian buildings serving as craft shops, cafes, antique stores and souvenir shops.
Until next time, South Africa! I highly recommend a road trip around South Africa for an unforgettable experience! I’d like to thank all of the South African folks who have welcomed us so warmly and let us snoop around their backyard.