Class in session
13 July 2012 | SIBUSISO MKWANAZI
Paternoster’s various tourist venue owners are adamant that the name of their village means “Our Father” in Latin (the prayer sailors used to recite while passing the area), while the local fishermen who live there spread the gospel that it was named after the beads that the Khoi people wear.
However, what both parties agree on is that, for a village in which every single building is white, it has a rather colourful history.
As developed as the village has become due to the rise of its popularity with tourists, Paternoster still retains a homely feel, largely due to the fact that its guesthouses – including the only 5-star establishment in the area, Abalone House Boutique Guesthouse – and the fishermen’s cottages are integrated, forming a close-knit community.
One of the locals is responsible for the walking tours of the area, explaining how the district came to be the tranquil paradise it is today.
The most vivid part of the guided stroll is a quick stopover at the Oep Ve Koep coffee/curio shop, which sells vintage ware like enamel crockery.
Tour parties then get chaperoned through the nearby fish factory, which still has a healthy output.
As guests take in the history lesson – significant landmarks such as the SS Ismore and SS Lisboa shipwrecks (which were later removed); sites such as the fully functional Cape Columbine Lighthouse and Columbine Nature Reserve; and the amusingly named, Tietiesbaai (it has boulders that resemble “DD” breasts, according to the locals) – it becomes clearer how this West Coast village was formed.
For further insight into the some of the lesser-known history of Paternoster, an unauthorised walk is highly recommended.
This is when you find out that most of the fishermen are more than willing to disclose that the wood used to make their cottage doors was taken from shipwrecks, and there are interesting tales about the treasure their great grandfathers discovered.
Do not leave Paternoster without asking about a favourite hangout for some of the locals – the Panty Bar.
But because you are so close to the freezing waters of the wild Atlantic Ocean, guests always have to be on guard for the weather to turn on them.
When it does, there is nothing better than retreating to Abalone House.
As soon as you step inside, it feels as if you are visiting an establishment that has strange powers to calm all storms.
All 10 of its suites offer views borrowed from Photoshopped postcards, but in this case, they are all real and in front of you, even though you might have to wait for a passing storm.
And you have never appreciated underfloor heating as much as you do so close to the Atlantic.
For a more social option though, you can follow the sound of the roaring fire in the fireplace and enjoy a warm beverage at the Africa Bar.
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