It’s official – I love Africa and can’t wait to be back there. I know, I know, vacation is one thing and living there is another, but once you fall in love with a place, it’s not “if” you go back but “when”. And who knew that I could be doing a dream job (basically all about people!) while being in a country that has made such an impact on my life.
And of course, there is something to be said for camping in the wilderness, whether it be a secluded island in the Delta, or in the Namib Dessert – knowing there is the threat of danger – lions, hyenas and hippos, oh my! (with a couple of Benedryl I can sleep through anything), talking to the locals and hearing their stories, the mix of centuries old with modern convenience… so much to love. I would try to explain how Africa grabs you, how every pore of your being seems connected to it (not to mention the sand/dust that you can never be rid of…), but until you experience it, I’ll just end up sounding like a cheesy travel brochure… but I have already gotten two best friends to make the trip so at this point I am a walking travel brochure – I can’t stop talking about Africa! Here are some of my favourite moments:
- Shabba getting the speedboat stuck on the side of the bank while an elephant seemed very keen to run us down. Apparently an elephant waving their ears like this is a very bad sign.
- Sitting in complete darkness while camping and hearing a hyena laugh. Creepiest moment ever; it sent chills down my spine.
- Walking down the side of Dune 45 in bare feet in the Namib Dessert and once I was back home I was told that poisonous snakes and spiders live underneath the surface of the sand. I knew there was a reason I should have watched those National Geographic specials with my father. Ahh, ignorance is bliss.
- Driving in an open vehicle going through the Chobe park and having a sun beetle ricochet through and having three grown women reduced to screaming like little girls, yelling at our guide to stop to get rid of the offending bug (in our defense – those things are big, nasty looking and hurt when they hit you, and of course, completely harmless).
- Having spent time and effort into making a great tuna casserole, and coming back from a truly disappointing night safari or “rhinos in the wind” as we dubbed it and seeing the lovely tuna laying there on the ground. Was it jackals or our neighbours at the campsite next to us… but would they be that messy?
- Again, getting stuck (this time on on top of a bush – and by a bush I mean a small tree) in an open 4X4, while a male lion is roaring a few feet away. I clung to Judy and wondered if I was looking good for his dinner?
- Being stuck in JoBerg for a few days by myself, and getting to know my driver, Peter, a refugee from Zimbabwe. What a story. He was my only connection to people for those long few days and I asked what I am sure were way too personal of questions, but he didn’t seem to mind.
- Getting two flat tires in middle of nowhere Namibia – the first one, just a few minutes drive from a watering hole. My job? Elephant watch, to make sure we didn’t get trampled. I would have been on lion watch, but if they were that close we were goners anyway. The second flat tire of the day? Naturally, was in the middle of a hoard of flies. The feeling of flies crawling in your ears and nose – gives me the creepy crawlies just thinking about it.
- The border crossing from Zambia to Botswana – I did not have a visa waiver, but between Nolene’s sweet talking and me praying like crazy: my passport was stamped. It was one of those moments I just wanted to grab my passport and start running. Reminds me of that IKEA commercial – “START THE CAR!” Travel in Africa is always an adventure.
- And finally the sound of Africa – it is never quiet. Birds, beetles, monkeys – they all become the sound you miss as soon as you return home. I adore having my morning coffee (instant with warmed milk) with a Rusk to dip and just listening to the sounds of Africa. There is nothing better.