Saturday 11 August 2012

16 Marmosets, 3 Dogs and a Traffic Cop

Have you ever noticed how stressful situations bring out the extremes of personalities? 

Strangers, friends, family and all, let us say the best and the worst!  Here is a little story of just such extremes:

It is two days before Christmas and it has been an amazingly hot and dry summer (yes I did say summer as I live in South Africa) and I am having a leisurely cuppa with my sister sitting around the pool - the calm before the storm!

The lodge we owned and ran was booked out from Boxing Day onwards for the next ten days.
"What is that mist over there?" My sister enquires. "That is not mist that is fire!" We call the fire brigade who assure us they are aware and "everything is under control anyway it is miles from you".

Boxing Day morning arrives and four of our first guests are due to arrive. Two are from Germany and two from Johannesburg who we must pick up from the airport. I am faffing around with pretty decorations and arranging the table for the evening meal. Then I see it out of the dining room window - the "mist" is back. This time it is just the other side of the swimming pool!! I phone my husband in town who phones the Fire Brigade who tell him “sorry all of the engines are out as the Wilderness is on fire”. 

Two trucks turn up with water tanks on their rear to fight a fire which is now surrounding the two sides of the property. I phone my sister who arrives hysterical - not such a good idea with hindsight, with her usually comically funny husband who is now speechless.

The staff are busy throwing buckets of water from the pool to the surrounding area. The rest of us are running around like crazy with hose pipes. The pine trees are exploding as they do and firing gooey fireworks everywhere. Guests are still at the airport, so I phone and explain that they must hire a car which we will pay for and I will find them other accommodation.

Half an hour later a car pulls up the drive, the first of the guests.  Running across the lawn and oblivious of my appearance I greet them. The woman looked beautiful in a long summer dress and the husband equally elegant. I apologise and ask a member of staff to take them to the bar make them some tea and I will be back in a moment. 

By now we are surrounded as the fire is behind the cottages, in front of the lodge, beyond the pool and it is snowing ash and sticky bombs!!

The second couple turn up and once again I run to explain and apologise. The German lady says “I am so disappointed I wanted to sit around the pool and look at the view”. Deep breath, “well you have a drink” I say “and then decide what you would like to do”. 

Now I am missing the other two guests from the bar, through the window I see the beautiful lady with her dress hitched up and a hose pipe in her hand along with her partner keeping the fire at bay from the Koi Pond! Oh my god could this get any worse? Apparently! A siren comes up the drive; thank goodness, the fire brigade? No, a traffic cop who has come to tell me that I must vacate the property by order of the Traffic Department as we are in danger- really?  Deep breath, “I have 16 Marmoset monkeys, 3 dogs and so far 4 guests - what do you suggest I do with them? Go away or be useful" is the polite version - he went away. 

In the meantime my sister has put the valuables into the car ready for when we do ultimately have to do a runner. The Germans are fighting it out in their room and the elegant couple are having a glass of wine in reception and thanks to Mr Dundee and my brother in law, staff and a few fire fighters things are a little more under control.  My gallant guest offers me a glass of wine and asks "have you looked in the mirror recently?"
My face was black and streaked with tears, my hair full of ash and my white T shirt full of holes and globs of goo.

The outcome? The Germans left, the elegant guests stayed for 10 days and laughed about it , the fire continued at bay for 3 days. Monkeys survived, dogs came out of hiding and we all lived to tell the tale. Isn’t life wonderful?

Linda xxx
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  1. Oh that is absolutely amazing! I'm sorry but I'm afraid I laughed at this. Good to know no one was hurt (more than a little).
    I hope you have managed to get over your slighly stressful situation now.
    You should send this into Reader's Digest, or something similar.

    1. Hi Lucretia,
      I am so glad it made you laugh as did we all for days afterwards. Life is a wonderful journey but you need a good sense of humor? Mine is a little dark sometimes!
      Linda x