A week ago, I was riding in an open-air jeep, freezing while wearing 4 t-shirts and a thin sweatshirt, being pummeled by rain in the middle of South Africa.
Today, I woke up at 10am, lounged about, had a 90 minute massage and did some yard work.
What a difference a week makes.
I was in South Africa for work, but took an extra two days off so that I could take a four-day safari. Most people save up for month and months and plan far in advance for a safari...I had two weeks to plan. Financially, it would have been much better to have months and months to plan, but that's what credit cards are for, right? It's like layaway (for those of us who relied on layaway back in the day). Because of my lack of time, I was limited on options for where to stay. Because of my lack of funds, I was even more limited on where to stay. In the end, I was quite happy with where I ended up - at Shindzela, a tented safari camp. It's like camping, but a little bit more luxury. I had a private bathroom, attached to my tent, but it was open-air so it wasn't luxurious by far.
The weather was quite cold and windy the first day I was there, then quite rainy and cold the second. The third and fourth days though - beautiful. Just beautiful.
Interested in seeing where I stayed? Here's a short tour:
You have to keep the bathroom zipped up since it's open to the outdoors, or baboons will come in and wreck havoc on your world.
My guide, Monica, told me a story about how when she first visited the bush years ago, her and her mom and now-husband Peter stopped at a vista to enjoy the view and this lovely little baboon was sitting nearby. Excited, they offered the little guy a piece of bread. And within 30 seconds, there were about 35-40 baboons surrounding them. Moral of the story -never feed the monkeys! We had a baboon come by the camp just after lunch one day and all the guests were excited and preparing to take pictures, but Monica and Peter started yelling at it and scared it away. Baboons are NEVER welcome.
We also had a hyena that approached us while we were at dinner. Monica just suddenly got up, grabbed her gun and ran from the table, calling over her shoulder: "TORCH PLEASE." Peter jumped up, grabbed the flashlight (torch) and followed. I guess the hyena was being quite bold and had decided to come join us for dinner. They are huge pests for the management as they knock over the garbage and create havoc in the kitchen. Honey badgers are also a huge pest for them, though we never saw them.
There is a resident male elephant that likes to come through camp, mostly at night. The path he prefers is right past my tent and directly in the path of the solar panels that provide the limited electricity at camp. He gets caught in the wires and unplugs them every time, but luckily has not damaged the solar panels themselves.
The game drives were great - even in the pelting rain. It was just peaceful. I say this - but a safari game drive is just sitting in a jeep for four hours at a time, going up and down and around on this dirt trail, hoping you'll come across a wild animal. But being out in the open, knowing you are totally exposed and FREE - it's peaceful. It's not like going to a game park where you get to drive around with wild animals (which my coworkers and I did and every lion pic I have is from that game drive). It's different. It's like being in True Nature. You turn a corner and suddenly you are watching wild elephants. Or you come up over the hill and you see a brand new baby giraffe.
This is a giraffe that was very recently born, maybe that morning or the prior night. It still has it's umbilical cord attached.
This was probably one of the highlights of my safari. I really love giraffes - they are both clumsy and graceful at the same time. They have those gorgeous eyes and eyelashes. And now I have witnessed that they love deeply and truly.
While driving in the middle of nowhere Africa, looking out over the view, I thought it was a perfect chance to contemplate life and think about where I'm going, where I want to go, where I've gone right, or wrong...
Instead, I spent a lot of time singing songs from The Lion King.
And then I forced myself to quit...and put Africa by Toto on repeat in my mind. But I don't know most of the song, so really I just kept singing "I blessed the rains down in Africa."
And I did. I blessed the rains in Africa. I hope to return someday and highly encourage you all to try to make it there. Such an amazing trip - I have many stories from my journey, but I'll end for now with a series of photos:
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