Monday, 17 August 2015

Sometimes The Longest Wait Is So Worth It

Some time back I mentioned that one of Mark's clients owed us a weekend away in the Kruger National Park or a reserve close by - the details were very sketchy. This arrangement goes back to around February/March last year. It seemed that it would never happen, but Mark relentlessly pursued it. He did not hound the guy relentlessly on a day to day basis or even a month to month basis, but every now and again we would bring it up and he would contact the guy and try and arrange a weekend away, that was rightfully owed to us. Mark contacted him again a couple of week's ago and tried to arrange to go last weekend - we did not know that it was a long weekend, we just needed a weekend away. We found out it was a long weekend when Mark contacted this guy and was told it was fully booked because it was a peak period and we could only go this weekend. Mark said we would take it or we would never go and the original agreement had no conditions attached.

In hindsight, it was the wrong weekend. Business was very quiet and although we were not paying for accommodation as such, weekends away cost money. Chad's Matric Dance is this coming week, he has things to organise and we have to go for cocktails before the dance and we need to get clothes to wear etc. Monday was a holiday and it was only confirmed on Tuesday that the "chalet" was available and we could go. The accommodation was for 6 people and no more than 6 people. By Thursday night, we still did not know if we were actually going and Chad did not want to go. Mark woke up on Friday morning and decided he had arranged it so we were going and we were leaving at 11. He went off to work, Chad woke up later than usual and told me he is not going with. I was all like you have to come with, we can't leave you alone and he was all like, the Ballito holiday was the last holiday that I go on and you promised and Mark said he is 18 we can't force him. I had already arranged with Sheila to look after the house and I did some last minute rushing around to go shopping for the house, rushed to work to do some urgent stuff and then rushed off to buy some stuff to take with us - don't ask why I didn't do all the shopping together. I had to go to Chad's school as well in the morning for some Matric stuff and rushed home to pack, Mark met me at home and we packed my Hyundai Getz and off we went just Mark and I in a Getz to a Game Reserve.

We eventually left at around 12.30 and had an uneventful trip, which felt like forever and we were not even sure what to expect when we arrived. I kept making a mental note of all the important things I needed to pack from the morning and going through the list in my head whilst we were driving because everything was a rush. Underwear; socks; soap; toothbrushes, toothpaste etc, Mark was told that there was a small shop in the resort, but we were still unsure. On the way I realised that I had forgotten Olive Oil and matches - I gave up smoking two years ago and we still forget that I no longer carry a lighter around for braais and log fires. The trip seemed to take forever and the closer we got the more worried I became about what awaited us on our arrival as by then we knew it was not the actual Kruger Park that we were going to, but a private Game Reserve. I was wondering if we were meant to bring our own bedding. I always bring towels with and I was imagining us huddled freezing cold under our bath towels for the weekend. We arrived at the gate and signed in with the security at around 5.30 and drove and drove on a sandy bumpy road following a hand drawn map on the back of our booking "letter" for about an hour. I voiced my concerns about linen and Mark said the guy told him we must just bring food and clothes obviously.

We were booked into the bush lodge and there was also a river lodge - my fears of having no bedding just grew when I heard we were going to a bush lodge. I imagined a mud hut type of dwelling on this dry dusty reserve. We drove through the river camp and it looked ok and then drove into the bush camp. The reception looked impressive. I would be lying if I didn't say a feeling of trepidation overcame us as we approached reception - imagine being told we were not booked in, that this guy has no affiliation to them, that we would be staying in a mud hut with no linen. We nervously stepped into the impressive reception area, Mark more confident than me or hiding his feelings of trepidation from me and everyone in reception. There was a family in front of us and when they were done, the receptionist attended to us and the resort Manager was answering questions the other family was asking. There was a collective sigh of relief as he read out our name and "chalet" number. We booked a game drive, they went over some rules, signed an indemnity form and drove off to our Bush lodge still a bit nervous.

Oh my word - what a stunning place. It was massive and beautiful. It had 3 big bedrooms and 3 stunning bathrooms, a massive kitchen and dining area and lounge. Upstairs was another massive bedroom and lounge area with TV. A beautiful outside patio with a small plunge pool and fire pit and we were right next to the Kruger Park - a small electrified fence separating us from the Kruger Park bush. Mark was told that our lodge over looked the Kruger Park and we could sit and watch animals as we ate. Yea right liked I believed that.

 After exploring our mini-mansion and feeling lost in it - just the two of us, we made a fire, I made a salad and we had chicken and lamb chops. I realised that I had not even brought salt with - no spices whatsoever so although the meat was ever so bland, the salad was good and after a week of detoxing bland was good.

Outside Shower

The lodge slept ten and here was Mark and I all alone in this place with a choice of bedrooms and bathrooms and even lounge areas to occupy. We sat outside listening to the night sounds, alternating between companionable silence, deep conversation and humour at our unwarranted worry and anxiety and the two of us rattling around this big place. We did, however, realise that company and conversation would have detracted from the serenity and tranquillity of the African bush and that was definitely evident when an elephant practically joined us for breakfast the next morning and our neighbours deep in group conversation and chatter did not even know an elephant was within meters of us whilst 3 more were happily breaking down trees about 50 meters away. This was a young wild elephant from the Kruger Park, not a relatively tame circus or zoo elephant.

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