I need to try and catch up on everything, but we have little free time and even less computer time, yet I shall try.
The safari was truly phenomenal. We saw the “big five” as noted before, and so much more. The only other animal I wanted to see was the hyena. Sure enough, they were hanging around the dead giraffe, waiting to challenge the lions. They reminded me of the Lion King complete with a weird shriek and a shit-eating grin, which is about all that will be left of that giraffe by the time they get it. We did not see great herds on the plains, but maybe Botswana. I think we traded the masses of animals in the vastness for “up close and personal”.
We all gathered to leave at 10:00 for Graskop. The next 4 hours - yes count them four- were spent waiting for the van. (They went to the wrong part of the Park) Then they didn’t bring a trailer big enough for our luggage hence the picture of them tying it on. Fortunately Bill, Mr. Fixit, help secure everything, for they were clueless. Needless to say we missed all the sites on the way to G. along with any lunch. Fortunately the Graskop Hotel was fabulous. Each room was designed and decorated by a different artist, much better than the Madonna Inn! The town was cozy and safe. It was the first time we could walk around without being worried of lions, hyenas, elephants, or humans. The time there was much too short. We had 1 ½ hours to shop at the silk store, etc. which left many of us upset.
Yesterday was a travel day. The same van to the airport, fighting with the airline to check more luggage- it’s 44lbs. per person, not per bag, and carry on only 15lbs… . . . heck my back pack weighs 30lbs!! We arrived in Jozi to pick up a different guide, Shiney, who seems to be a god-send, though she’s hampered by Simon our bus driver who seems quite old and dotty. But you read right--- we have a small BUS rather than a van, what a difference it makes. It’s a good thing for we spent 5 hours on it yesterday driving to Clarens, and will have 5-6 to Durban; plus stops.
The landscape has been huge farms, with narry a sole in sight. Reminds me of west Texas. But Clarens is nestled at the base of the Golden Gate park. No, no bridge anywhere, just 2 mountain ranges that look like gates. We are going there at sunset to see the colors. Will pass on pictures.
All in all it’s been a busy, inspiring trip complete with some of the best FUBARs possible. Whenever the lack of forethought pops up, they mutter TIA. . . . . this is Africa. I’m beginning to understand that Banana Republics have nothing on this place. Twinkle
Today, Friday, (we have to keep asking each other what day it is….) was lovely. We SLEPT IN !!! until 7:15. Had a wonderful breakfast with a view of the mountains just out the window and then hit the streets . We had four hours to wander this small artist colony and everyone loved it. Purchases were made in many of the galleries and I know that many of the group will have wonderful memories of this town.
We boarded the bus in the early afternoon and headed for the Basotho Cultural Village. This was a double treat – the village itself was really well done and we learned a great deal about the people from the 17th century to the present …..and several local schools were also visiting and we loved watching the kids running around, being naughty, hiding out in the bathrooms and basically – behaving the way all our kids did !! Some things are just so universal!
The drive there and back was beautiful – because it was dark when we arrived last night, we didn’t see the incredible vistas. This is farm and ranch land as Twinkle said. There are large grazing areas, and huge burn areas. They routinely have controlled burns and the new vegetation becomes the next pasture. We also saw Spring Bok which is a cousin to those in the bush – as well as a fair herd of mountain zebra. Twinkle and I were also the only ones to see the HUGE ostriches strolling through the grass – HEY – you snooze you lose !!
We had a wonderful dinner with our friend Annie in a tiny bistro – it was wonderful – we are happy – life is goodGood Night Mary