Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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Eventually we got going, without the boys who had gone to Hogsback and hadn't yet materialized. They would travel up the next day with the new volunteer who would be joining us.
So a waste of time and a long drive back, I went to bed straight after dinner, slightly pissed off.
The next day made up for it though, it was a really good day. We went to the Mpongo reserve where we held and played with 2 beautiful 4 week old lion cubs that roamed around the living quarters of the rangers. Deserted by their mum, who had simply lost interest, they were bottle fed and lived there like domestic pets.
Next we went on fence patrol with a ranger called Joe, who immediately took me aside and slipped me a message from Roger, someone I'd met on the the Tomato Trot Saturday
Anyway, we went on the fence patrol, checking the fences of the reserve for what sneaks in or steals out and what needs to be fixed. It was a nice walk with Joe explaining what we were actually seeing. Hoof prints, or foot prints, which indicated poachers.
We stopped for a picnic, a lovely spot in the shade, and continued on back to the reception area where we met with the new volunteer Ashley, an American girl, and our two lost Brazilian guys. While we were there I saw the most extraordinary monkey, well, not actually the animal was surprising, but its genitals. The balls a pretty sky blue and the penis a colour that made me think of Betty Davis' lipstick. To think that nature, or god, came up with this - it was as if someone had painted it for fun. Had to mention it, it was quite impressive and I thought it a great improvement
OK, now we continue to drive through the reserve doing elephant tracking. The owner of the reserve has bought some elephants at great expense and has had a collar put on some of them with detector
I suddenly realise, I have got it all written down in my notebook, what we did, the names and the places: Undula, Stutterheim, Lujilo, the Qolomci river, Matola and Kubuzi, where we camped. What will these names and places mean to you, even I can't remember what was what. I remember what I saw, the colours, the scents, the sounds , that I was happy, that I was down.
The first two weeks have been different than before. It's hard to say why. Maybe it is being part of a group again, not being free to follow my own heart. The company is fine, it is not that, we all get on well, but I am ready to go alone.
Africa still feels as good as ever, the feeling that comes over me that is hard to describe - just being here makes life special, vibrant and exciting. Would it be like this anywhere exotic and far from life as you know it, I wonder, or is it South Africa?
When we got back from Kubuzi we found the bless buck was eating solids, the ridge back looking wistful as she always got half a bottle too, not because she needed it, but she loved it so much, drinking delicately while the bless buck almost swallowed the whole bottle, she was that greedy
We had a 'party' on our last night at Sabati - only one brave young man showed up. It must have been raining for 75% of the time we were on the project and the roads were bad. Anyway, he did well taking the risk for it seems he found true love with Ashley. That is something that really surprises me, the speed at which romances flare up and just as soon die down - Chintsa, Sabati, Kubuzi, it has been at least as interesting observing human behavior as the wild animals.
We left Sabati only yesterday. That is hard to imagine as I am now sitting in the beautiful garden of the Sugarloaf Lodge at Coffee Bay, gazing at the Indian Ocean, which must be at its best, sparkling, the deep blue-green and the rolling white topped waves. It is too hot to go there right now, yes, it is finally and wonderfully summery, but I will later. People, who came en mass for yet another party at the Coffee Shack yesterday are now leaving and I am looking forward to some peace and quiet, actually, I can feel myself relaxing for the first time since I got here. "'Mixed feelings,' I read," said someone who knows me well
I have been scratched, bruised, got thorns in my feet, sick from the sun when little Luc lost his way and what should have been an hour's patrol turned into 4 hours at the one time it was 40 degrees Celsius, and no shade. My nails are broken, my skin peeling, and to top it off I got bitten by a tick, that may or may not infect me with some kind of fever. Please keep your fingers crossed for the next week :) I've been walking in wild and beautiful places, wet and muddy trips, seen all the animals in a seemingly natural environment, swam in a rapid river, got swept away in both senses of the word. I've eaten a live termite, well, how can you refuse? There were heated discussions and meaningful talks. Been on the bumpiest roads ever, the old bashed up land rover was not a status symbol, it actually has the petrol in a jerry can strapped to the bonnet. Every single journey they were problems, fiddling about in the middle of no-where. And after all that fence patrolling, when we were stuck somewhere no-one had a problem with getting the pliers and cutting pieces of wire out of the nearest fence. Funny, no?
Well, this is South Africa, a land of contradictions. Mixed feelings? Might just come with the territory........