29 December 2013

23. - 29 Dec.: Mbahoko Ndebele village to Kruger National Park

Breakfast and good byes to our Ndebele hosts. Even though this has been a brief and obvously superficial encounter, I will miss the casual smile of these ladies as they prepare breakfast for us. They are all by the door of the communal hall to wave us away.

We slowly make our way to the Kruger National Park. Our driver is Paul, a chubby white Afrikaans speaker who tries, really hard, to be funny and crack a new joke every five minutes. I can sense from his talk he really yearns for the days old South Africa, he rarely misses a chance to complain about the post-Apartheid system.

When we arrive at the camp we are welcomed by a row of colorfully attired black ladies who line up next to our parked bus. They don't really speak any English so it's not clear what they are there for and whether it's got anything to do with us. It did: they want to carry our bags to the rooms. In my case, my rooms is a good 300 meters away, a comfortable wooden construction on stilts. To get there, there is an easy paved path and I try to just grab my trolley and roll it to destination by myself. No way: they stop me and gesticulate profusely to make clear they are carrying my bag. Well OK they want to earn a tip, it's not really necessary as I could easily do it myself but I appreciate the effort and agree to let one of them carry my bag. yes, carry, on her head, as whe refuses to just grab the handle and roll it. I try several times to explain it's heavy and there is really no need to put all those 25 kilos or so on her spine but to no avail. Then as I grab my camera backpack another lady comes forward and very politely takes it from me and puts that, too, on her head. Allright, so we just move together to the room, where I give them a good tip, they smile and walk back to the parking lot to way for the next arrivals.

In the afternoon we go for a game drive from 4 to 7 pm. Cold rain is whipped against us by the relative wind as we are in open vehicles. We use special open safari vehicles. Our driver is Tommy, a friendly big guy who enjoys explaining all he knows about the park. It is cold and windy and before sunset we decide to head back without any major sighting under our belt.

Kruger camaleon

Dinner is at the huge buffet of our camp, lots of meat and veggies and of course South African wines. It's been a long day and the cold, rain and wind have taken their toll, so we all decide to hit the sack rather early tonight.

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