Walk through Mossel Bay at night, guided by an expert, to experience the ghosts of a time long ago.
Standing in front of the Fowkes building in Mossel Bay, which was once an isolation ward for 1918 flu epidemic, sent a chill up my spine. Now more than ever, we can finally understand the existential pain and suffering in isolation wards. If the walls could talk they would tell of loneliness and hurt, not just on the inside, but on the outside where family members waited patiently for news of their loved ones. It sounds too familiar.
Almost 300 000 people died in South Africa alone within a period of six weeks at that time. We were also one of the top five countries hit by the Spanish Flu and in the last year, history has repeated itself.
This is one of many moving memories you collect during the Mossel Bay Historic Ghost Walk hosted by Leon van der Walt. And before you decide that colonial history is not your cuppa tea, let me stop you in your tracks. Van der Walt has curated his enthralling experience through the town from real-life events that unfolded decades ago – all documented in newspapers.
Mossel Bay buildings rich in history
In actual fact you walk in the footprints left by all communities that inhabited the idyllic seaside town. There are buildings rich in history but they are intertwined to events that happened in real time and you get a front row seat to how it all unfolded.
The tour starts at 18:00 and ends at 20:30, but you’ll want to stay a little longer even if your feet say otherwise. There are ghosts who still haunt the town and the historian will take you right up to the houses where these supernatural events still happen, if you believe in this sort of thing.
He is very convincing and will tell you a tale or two of his own to seal your belief. You can’t deny the eerie feeling when you stand near the spot where criminals were hung while the townsfolk looked on in horror.
Tales of debauchery and some of success
There are tales of debauchery, followed by those of success and some gossip thrown in here and there for good measure. But it’s mostly all true and a direct recollection of events that did happen.
An obligatory stroll to the graveyard to visit some of the Mossel Bay residents you learned about along the way completes the experience.
The tour snakes through the quiet streets and the stories are so fascinating you barely realise you’ve added over 6 000 steps on your FitBit.
It’s possibly one of the most exciting tours I have been on and who ever says that about history?