Tuesday 22 January 2013

Aliens, showers and tortoises - Crafty Tales from the Wilderness

One of the first ‘real’ safaris I ever went on when I arrived in South Africa was to the Zebra National Park in the Great Karoo.

After many, many hours driving - far more than anticipated or even more than you could dream of driving in one day, we arrived at our destination and camp site. 

It was 4.30pm and 40 degrees Celsius and we now have to erect our own tent and prepare for the night ahead.  It was one of those moments when you wonder when a level of adventure became a measure of insanity? 

It is February and the hottest month of the year, but we finish the ‘erection’ and I collapse into a camping chair in the shade, totally mentally and physically exhausted.  Only to be told that it will be dark in an hour and if I want to shower and as the electricity is not too reliable, I should go right now.  Hey! "I am an intrepid traveler" I tell myself and off I go with towel over my shoulder and wash bag in hand. 

Relieved to be in the shade of the shower block and alone, I start to clean my teeth looking around as you do when in strange places and when nobody else is around to talk to. 

I spot above me the largest ‘alien’ species of bug you can imagine. To give you some idea, if you have ever ordered Langoustine in a restaurant? Now imagine it crawling over your head, brown, scaly and about 4” long, very creepy. Then imagine showering whilst keeping one eye on your new shower sharer.

On my return from the shower block it was dusk and I was very glad to settle down to a nice G&T around the newly fired up braii (South African barbecue). Husband Marcus was having a man moment poking the coals and enjoying his G&T and a few laughs about the day's traveling experience. It is now dark and when you have experienced dark in the bush you know what "dark as night" really means. 

A couple of drinks later and whilst Marcus was still cooking I noticed he seemed to be having a bit of a jig at the same time. As his ‘dancing’ became more and more obvious and he hadn't had that much to drink,  I asked what on earth he was doing. He finally confessed that the relatives of the ‘shower alien’ where crawling out of the trees and towards the light of the barbecue. He didn't want to tell me and so was trying to quietly kick them away.  My instinctive reaction was to leap up into my chair and remain sitting cross legged in the chair for the remainder of the evening.

In the morning I awoke to meet a giant tortoise outside of our tent that apparently loved cucumber and had a tug of war with me to finish the whole thing before I could take it away. Nature is amazing especially when you meet with it on its own territory.

Linda xxx

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  1. I love your exotic tales. It's been a tough month for me and I've been quite sad and depressed. Thank you for lifting my spirits.

    1. Thank you Lucretia,
      It is good to hear that a story from a stranger the other side of the world can lift your spirits.
      Remember the famous Chinese expression "This too will pass".
      It helps at times when your feeling down.