Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Jan 30, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Before I begin to tell you all about how great my week was and I have a whole lot of good stuff to write about let me begin with the bad.  I'm currently in Durban at the moment, the tour officially ended yesterday and the friend I met off of it, Meegan, stayed here as well and we are both leaving today.  We took a bus to the casino on the beachfront this morning and we were walking along the beach, this was at 10 am or so, complete daylight, and we heard the sound of breaking glass and 2 kids were walking up behind us and they tried to grab Meegans bag and she's yelling 'F*** off !1! and I'm saying "go away get away from me" and they kept coming toward us and saying something like "just let me explain.." and we are like no no get away and im trying to get my bag open and i stuff my money and my memory card into my bra and im walking in another direction and megan has her flip flops in her hand and hits one of them over the head with it , they thankfully walk away.  They didn't get anything from us and we don't know why they stopped trying but glad they did, we were both a bit shaken up, Meegan was crying and my heart was beating fast but I think because they were just kids, 16 at most, I wasn't actually affraid they would hurt us, we are both pretty big girls, bigger than both of them that's for sure. But it was still scary. There are warnings everywhere and tourists are told to be very very careful in the big cities, the crime rate is so high, I don't think i had actually come across one person that had been to South Africa and not gotten robbed!  I had left my credit cards and passport at the hostel but did have my camera and memory chip that i was worried about and after having my camera stolen in Australia last year, no one was going to get away with getting my pictures from my again.  We walked quickly off the beach and on to the promenade and waved down a police vehicle. They were 2 Indian men and talked with us for several minutes and went on and on saying that all the blacks are demons, they aren't fighting human beings but evil itself and  for us to get out of the city and not to come back, and asking us if we are Christian, Muslim, etc. and if not we should be now!  They were quite extremely opinionated but at least we had someone on our side even if they could do nothing about it. They were the municipal police and said the crime rate is so high and things happen all the time but the police do nothing about it. There just isn't the funding to arrest, try, and jail all the criminals. So basically it sounded like we could get murdered in broad daylight and no one would care and nothing would be done about it? I hope i misinterpreted that. They seemed awefully racist. From my experience in the last week it had seemed that most people got along well despite 'race', but it seems that although apartheid has ended, the old ways of thinking die hard, sad as that is.  Anyway continueing on,  Meegan had a knife that she got out afterwards and now has given it to me as she is going home and won't be needing it.  I think this was a good wake up call to be even more careful then I have been, although i've been as careful as possible when in Jo'burg and now here, you really don't worry about going out in the day time to a tourist area and worry about kids robbing you! Had they been men we would have been really afraid then and would have given over our stuff most likely.  It's unfortunate this had to happen though, because i didn't want to be distrusting and suspicous of everyone i come across, because of course not everyone is out to get me. Meegan has been travelling here for 3 months and is going home today, but the entire time she never had anything bad happen to her, and never really felt unsafe.  Anyway, so that happend but it's over and I'm fine and i have all of my things.  On to the possitve now....

The week long tour began on the 4th, I left Mufasa Backpackers and borded the big yellow Nomads truck with our driver and guide, Thabani, the cook, Godfree and German translater/helper Stephan.  That should have been a sign right there... why do we need a German translator???  We stopped at the pickup point to get the rest of the passengers and right away I was like ohhh nooooo... almost everyone was old!!  I was expecting this to be a trip full of backpackers!!  I'll explain our lovely group- "the Hungarian couple"- on the first day the man fell asleep in his chair and fell across the isle and on to my lap, his wife- a bossy lady telling everyone close the windows and blah blah blah' ,  next, "the Portuguese couple" the wife was annoying asking dumb questions such as 'will there be tea and coffee:? on the morning when we all have to be up at 5:30 and the poor crew had to get up extra early to meet her requests,  Maryse-Dutch girl who had been working in Ghana for a year,  Kevin- older Australian man who talked the ear off of anyone around, extremely annoying, bragging and telling tall tales of BS,  Stinky old German lady and Stinky old German lady's friend- they sat behind us, and the others were all Germans too, didn't speak much English.  And then there was Meegan, 26 from Melbourne, had just finished an 8 week overland trip with another company going all through South and East Africa. She would become my lifesaver on this trip!!!
The first night we stayed at a Timbavati Lodge, just outside of Kruger Park, I didn't have a choice when booking my tour, so i would be getting my own room everywhere we stayed.  The accomadations were circular hut type of things, but solid, but you are staying out in the wilderness and cant expect 5 star luxery or anything.  I had some little bugs on my bed so i was a bit paranoid and slept on my sleeping bag that night,  also a lizard flew up the wall when i flushed the toilet, and Meegan had a frog on her toilet paper.  In the morning we went for a little walk and she says to me, "have you ever seen a warthog?" "no", there were a couple of warhogs just a few yards away! Ugly things, but exciting to see them so close! Think of Pumba from The Lion King, the first of many outbursts of Lion King songs along the way.
The first day in the park we got incredibly lucky! By the way, it's not just a little park like the Wild Animal park in San Diego, this place is as big as Isreal, or Belguim, it could be a seperate country in itself.  When we first entered the gate right away there was action, some vultures circling around something as we got closer we saw that it was a bloody ribcage!!!   Very disgusting, but what a way to start the day.   It was a long drive, all day to get to the next campground, but along the way we saw so much.  Several giraffes,  eating the leaves off the tall trees, giant elepants with babies walking along slowly by a stream stomping through the foilage munching on big green leaves, , rhinos and srpingboks and impalas , both types of antelopes and resemble deers.  Also buffalos, lots of zebras, troops of baboons which i practically jumped out the window to see, monkeys are my favorite! On the first day we spotted 3 of the famed "Big 5", Elephants, buffalo, rhino, lions and lepeords.  They are ranked the big 5 not because of popularity but how dangerous they are.
The next day we were not so lucky, the weather was really crappy and rained on us all day. The day before it was so humid and i was so hot and sweaty and no one barely cracked a window, i was dying!!  On this morning on got on the bus and stinky old German lady said i should sit up front by Stephan because he keeps the window open!  I said maybe she should switch seats if she doesn't like the window open, and actually we would like a turn sitting in the back seat (5 seats for 2 people, plenty of room to stretch out)  she says NO, i said thats not fair and she says what i'm doing isn't fair (Opening the window) , she said do what you want and i'll do what i want, i said i will!  I'm not confrontational in the slightest, but i was angry because it was really unfair that she wouldn't rotate seats and man it was so hot i was going to keep that window open no matter what anyone said.  So during the day it was raining and a bit cold and the windows were so fogged up we couldn't see out them anyway.
We made our way to our next accomodation site at Skukuza. Our rooms were really nice, big ceiling rooms, 3 beds, complete kitchen and bathroom. Too much space for one person.
Meegan and I also bought a bottle of Amarula, a South African liquor similar to Baileys. We had a glass of it while scouring the quidebooks and making a plan for me with the rest of my time.
That night some of us went on an optional night drive.We spotted a few animals, some elephants came very clsoe, but the best was a real treat, a lepeord sleeping up in a big tree, a very rare sighting! 
 We were all anticipating seeing a lion as that would complete the 'big 5' checklist. We actually went to sleep with the sound of them roaring outside nearby! We set out at 6 am and spent a couple of hours driving around with no luck but jsut as we were about a mile from camp there it was, a lion laying in the grass by a log, not far from the road, just sitting up and staring at all of us watching  him in awe.  He stayed still at let us take a zillion photos!  He finally got tired of that and plopped down for a nap.  We were all stoked that we got to see a lion, he was gorgeous! It was an amazing experience to see these great creatures in the wild, in their natural habitats where they belong.
I was very lucky to have Meegan on this trip, we were lucky to have eachother actually. We spent most of our time talking about the other people and how much we didn't like them!! We spent most nights talking and laughing with the crew. I really enjoyed getting to know them. Thabani and Godfree are both from Zimbabwe and live in Victoria falls. They have families at home but are usually away for weeks at a time.  Thabani is the kind of person that you are just drawn to and is impossible not to love him, he is consistantly happy and friendly and has a great big smile and contageous laugh. I spent a lot of time asking them both question upon question about their lives and cultures. Of course I am guenuinly interested, as cultures is a main part of what I studied in college. Had a presued my degree further, I might just have ended up in Africa. It all feels so familar, and to be so close to things, people and places that I've studied, read about, wrote papers about... it's amazing.  I absolutely must come back here to go up to Tanzania and see Oldivai Gorge, where the famous archeologists the Leaky's discovered some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found, also to see the Laetoli footprints, some of the first evidence of upright walking hominids. And of course  I must go to the Congo on a gorrilla trek to see our closest living relatives! It's such a cool feeling to be here in Africa where my years of education actually are useful to me!
Anyhow this is getting rediculously long, on to the next destination.....
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