Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Safari 2014 Journal: Eleven Glorious Days (Day 6)

6/6/14: A Full Day

A full day, a full itinerary, a full belly, a full heart, and a full soul.  This day is the type of day you tell folks back home about, and I hope my words, Cindy’s pictures, and our stories capture the moments. 

Our morning started at 5:30 to get ready for a 6:30 start on the trail with our trusted guide Coleman and tracker Thimba.  The chilly start on the trail included the ubiquitous Impala, an animal so common in Sabi Sands, Coleman referred to them as McDonalds, which is fitting because they make a great Happy Meal for the predators.  The highlights of the morning safari, best captured digitally by Cindy, included a restful pride of Lions, many Zebras, two lazy Hippos, a lone Elephant, a Giraffe, and did I say Impalas??
After a nice breakfast, we went for a drive into the nearby village with Thimba and Shelley, both residents of the village.  Our visit included planned stops where various villagers performed for us.  Our first stop was for five young men to perform a ritual, Stomp-like dance that was originated decades ago by the black miners as a form of communication.  Our second stop was a ritual tribal war dance performed by three young men.  Stop three was to hear the boys and girls choir sing and dance customary tribal songs.  Voices of angels, right out of Lion King!!!!!!!!!! (Cindy cried)  A young lady pulled me from my seat to dance, where I tried but fortunately Cindy’s dance with a male counterpart was far more successful and the choir was quite impressed by the finely honed skills of the white girl; shades of 747, 2001, and Larry’s Golden Grill.  Stop four was to observe typical food preparation by some village women.  The corn and peanuts are grown right on the premises and we were able to taste the cornmeal porridge, spinach and the best peanut butter you’ll ever eat.  We also learned Cindy is a better dancer than corn masher.  Our fifth and final stop was to a preschool of 284 children 2-6 years old.  These young boys and girls were so excited by our visit!  The little voices screaming H E L L O, the waves high fives, blowing kisses, and thumbs up were moving.  A group of 284 youngsters then entertained us with their English School songs including Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, and several solos by some very dramatic boys and girls.  We said our goodbyes to the kids.  Full hearts indeed.  On our way out of the village, our guide Thimba saw his mother and aunt and he got out for Cindy to take a family picture.  We returned to the lodge for lunch still amazed and awestruck by our visit.

Our afternoon safari included more Zebras, elephants, giraffes, the damn impalas and a large group of baboons that entertained us for several minutes.  A sunset stop for some champagne and Shiraz and Biltong was a nice break before heading back to camp in the dark.  While we did se two rhinos in the dark, Cindy was not going to let Coleman off the hook.  The Rhino is still on the Big Five Bucket List!

A group dinner featuring a full bar, excellent wines, lovely starters and mixed grill of sirloins, chicken, Kudu and beef sausage highlighted the menu.  The staff also entertained us with some tribal singing and dancing.  Best of all, we were able to dine with our guide Coleman who was able to share with us this history, life under apartheid and his family.

A full day indeed!

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