Welcome to Napier
“Slow Time and Live Life Deliberately” - This saying is sprawled across a banner in Napier and may only ring true to you once you have stayed there. It is somewhere where time slows and the fast-paced world dissipates into a distant memory. It is a time to relax and, quite literally, take the time to smell the flowers. You will soon discover the tranquillity and charm that defines this anachronistic village.
A meander down the main road will be rewarded by strong-smelling cappuccinos, contemporary art, antique collections, sounds of chickens and neighbourly nods from the locals. Due to its intimate nature, locals will immediately recognise a foreign face. In this instance many will welcome you with open arms and happily take the time of day to share the history of the village (especially over a Milk Tart).
On one side Napier is steeped in old Afrikaans tradition with the town dating back to 1838. Some of the houses are testament to the town’s age with their white-washed walls and an arbitrary door placed on the second floor (which used to serve as an emergency escape). The church is 10 years younger than the town and a source of great pride for the locals as it was built with the aid of oxen and horse-drawn wagons.
There is however, a growing contemporary influence as many English artists are moving to the town for some peace and a daily surge of inspiration. Galleries dot the town and host a contemporary collection by local artists - from knitted animal heads to abstract ceramics and sculptures made from an array of materials. There are also over-packed book stores hosting hidden gems and chic coffee shops.
The 21st century has seen Napier turn into a quaint village where tradition and contemporary meet harmoniously. It is easy to find accommodation in archaic buildings that have been redone with a quirky interior. Every Sunday there is now an early English service and then later an Afrikaans service in the Dutch Reformed Church. Every Saturday morning there is a market and the varying personalities from the village can be seen relishing the fresh-made jams, breads and other goods from the local farms.
Napier has always been and still is to this day, a farming community. Even the houses in town have at least a few chickens clucking around their home-grown veggie patch. No matter where you decide to stay in Napier, in town or embedded in the countryside, you will hear the crow of a rooster and twittering of the countless birds early in the morning. It is a humbling sound that your soul will readily drink up.
Unlike many urban homes with large houses and small gardens, many of the houses in the village are Garden Plots. The houses are lined along the main road with gardens running all the way down to the Klipdrif River or up the hill. Many of the plots have a few sheep, horses and possibly a cow. The farms further out of town will have more cattle and, with a keen eye, it is possible to occasionally spot an alpaca roaming amongst a flock of sheep as they offer protection.
The tranquillity of the land and humbleness of the townsfolk offer the perfect escape from reality and time to reconnect with nature. Napier is truly off the beaten track and you will struggle to find another village that can simultaneously offer old world charm and quirky comforts. It is a wonderful thing to experience and one departs through the Rolling Meadows feeling content and revitalised.