Not tiring of it yet

Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
Trip End Apr 08, 2012

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Monday, May 16, 2011

Another normal morning: you know - wake up at 4.50am, out in the vehicle at 5.15am, watching the last traces of yet another lightening storm flicker through the clouds as they glide into the distance with the wind. Continue along the road, lit by headlights and held spotlight to see if a dead kudo, the victim of a speeding car, is still in its final resting place in one piece. Shine the spotlight into the trees to find four pairs of eyes blinking back at us, and on the road a large hyaena, doing an impressive job of hauling the half eaten carcass of that kudo away from the edge of the road and into the bush.

Photos taken and sighting recorded, the sun is rising so it's onwards up a particularly steep and bumpy hill to see if the dogs are in the same spot they settled at last night. And they are, so it's onwards further as the heat rises to see what other animals are feeling more active then the dogs.

We stop suddenly in the clearing of a midst of trees, hearing the rythmatic crunch of branches snapping. There to the side of us stand five elephants, casually going about eating their breakfast while we sit perfectly still watching the scene. Scattered around the upturned roots of tress that the herd had overturned - something that male elephants do in winter apparently, to feed on the nutrients that the roots provide - the elephants stood, trunks swaying with grass, leaves, and whole branches in their grasp. They do this apparently to clean away any debris from the food - and on cue we see the dust in the air as soil and sand gets caught in the air, cleaned from one elephants trunkful of food.

As we continued with the day, it struck me how much resourceful we used to be with what we have at our natural disposal. At camp, we fill up some empty plastic bottles with rainwater: we'll be drinking this for the rest of our time on camp as our own supply of shop-bought water has run out; Thanda suffers from a shortage of water so it makes good sense to make use of the free fall of water from last nights rain. Back out in the bush in the late afternoon we stop to track the wild dogs and while waiting Michelle provides us with some more local knowledge - this time abut the perfume tree, which we've parked up next to. Each branch on the tree can carry a slightly different scent; we each take a leaf and tear into small pieces to test for ourselves. Instantly our hands are filled with the smell of citrus and herbs. These leaves were often torn off and placed in baths - much as we would use bath salts today to scent the water. It's little things like this, and many of the other things Michelle has mentioned in the bush that can be utilised, that makes me think that we've forgotten how to work with what we've naturally got. I'm not sure I'm ready to give up the writing instrument I'm typing on for simpler things (though I do love to write and receive handwritten letters) and I am a city girl at heart - despite my original Lincolnshire upbringing. But it's nice to know, that despite the convenience of technology, and the usefulness of some advanced technology that helps with science and discoveries, that we don't need to rely on a computer or phone to get by in the world- we certainly seems to manage just fine without once upon a time. I'm still not ready to depend on the natural surroundings of the bush just yet, however.
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