The traditional fishermen here live just has they always have, subsisting on snoek and crayfish caught by hand from their colourful wooden boats. Fisher wives collect mussels and veldkool and prepare dishes to old family recipes, sharing meals with neighbours. It lends an air of community and timelessness to the little village, as does the gentle pace of life lived to tides and winds.
Paternoster – which means ‘Our Father’ in Latin – is said to have been named by shipwrecked sailors who gave thanks for making it safely to shore.Before Europeans first settled in Paternoster in the early 1800’s, San hunter gatherers had been living in the area for thousands of years, living off the rich marine resources that were readily available such as shellfish, crayfish, seals and marine birds. The many shell middens in Paternoster is evidence of the early hunter-gatherer-fisher settlement in the area. Archaeological excavations in Paternoster for example, indicate that the majority of the shell middens date within the last 3000-4000 years, and overlap the period both before and after the arrival of Khoekhoe pastoralists with sheep and pottery. The European settlers collected penguin eggs, caught crayfish and worked in the fish factory. In the late 1800s there were two crayfish canning factories in the village, fertilizer was made from crayfish shells and there was a fish liver oil factory too; the only factory remaining is Paternoster Fisheries, which packs live crayfish for export.
In the old days, a boatbuilding factory also operated from the beachfront and Redro fishpaste factory was born in Paternoster. The Paternoster Hotel, opened in the 1930s, was Solomon Tollman’s first property; today his Red Carnation Hotels Collection is international and highly esteemed. Also with a long history in the village, dating back to 1957, is The Paternoster Property Group. They’re integrally involved in developing the village sensitively to honour the past and appreciate the present, while planning the future. Maintaining this integrity is paramount to them.
Locals say: “You can’t choose Paternoster, it chooses you. But when it calls your name, you’ll know it for sure.” Listen if you’re summoned to the white-washed village that fringes the bay and looks like a little slice of Greece. Set in an expansive landscape, here you can breathe deeply, live simply and revel in the good life.
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