the travels: south africa

shake your bag o' bones, it's nearly africa

....tuesday morning we loaded up the car and headed to nelspruit in mpumalanga, one of the new provinces (formerly part of the eastern transvaal); christine and gerhard live there. it was a nice drive -- about 4 hours and we passed more of the rolling hills and then orange orchards, shanty towns full of corrugated tin shacks, jagged rocky cliffs and open plains. when we arrived at the house, we were greeted by two monkeys sitting on the limb of a tree in the front courtyard. fabulous!!! to me at least -- christine and gerhard refer to them as the "little horrors". twice a day they have to shut all the doors and windows as the monkeys pass by or else they run into the house and steal fruit from the kitchen or, lately, jewelry and toiletries from the bedrooms!! i donít know why a monkey would have an interest in beads and hand lotion but i guess maybe they have a more advanced society than we imagine.

....i did see a herd of zebras run across the road in front of us (including a little baby one), a giant white rhino taking a nap (i wanted to yell at him to lift his head so that i could better see his horn but realized this was not necessarily a good idea), an absolutely ugly as advertised warthog and, to my utter delight, a number of giraffes. we had been dawdling a little, stopping to listen to birds and watch impalas and we realized we had better hurry if we wanted to get back to the camp before they locked the gates. good thing we werenít driving too fast or we would have run over the lion!! a teenaged lioness, long lanky and arrogant as only a teenage beauty can be, was sitting quite regally in the middle of the road. as we came to a stop about 100 feet in front of her, she gave us a bored stare then casually stood up and sauntered toward the car, veering away at the last moment with a look of bored disdain -- she was no more than 10 feet from us!! it was most wondrous. and even with us stopping to watch her, we got back to the camp with five minutes to spare. it was a gorgeous night and as there were very few lights anywhere near us, the stars completely covered the sky. couple that with the sound of the river, frogs croaking, night birds singing, the occasional splashing of something getting a quick drink and you have the perfect african evening; we sat on the deck, drinking beer and drinking it all in.