Too much travelling
Oh my gosh, three consecutive days of travelling through three countries has really worn me out. I had my last day in Zimbabwe on Saturday, where I spent the morning doing a lion walk with the youngest set of cubs. It was nice to go out on a proper walk with them, as I previously had only done one training walk and a client walk, and that was just to collect spoor measurements. We had a nice stroll in the bush and then down to the river, where the lions sat on a boardwalk ready for some photos. It did seem a bit “circuisy” getting them to sit and pose for pics, but I guess that’s what brings money in to the Park.
The day before leaving Yvonne the new lion researcher and I took a canoe out in the morning and went paddling down the river. It was extremely peaceful and very serene; I just wish in a way I had come out at sunset because I’ve been told the sun reflecting in the water is a spectacular site. We spotted lots of different birds along the way, including some Malakite (sp?) kingfishers, although my camera skills are not quick enough yet to get a pic of them! We also saw the elephants wading through the river and tried to get closer to paddle next to them, but they were gone by the time we got over there. We managed to manoeuvre our canoe pretty well in the water, only having trouble once we went under a low bridge and got stuck turning it around. We even did a reverse park back up the jetty!
My last night at AP was spent playing the card game “spoons” with the staff until the surprisingly late time (for me) of 10pm! By that point I was shattered and wanted to get a good night’s sleep before my long travel days ahead so went back to my room for the final time. However, as I was plumping my pillows up I noticed the bottom pillow was COVERED in ants! I’ve tried to kill these pesky bugs many times before (I know, terrible for a vegan!) but they just keep coming back. This is something I will definitely NOT miss about Antelope Park! I can deal with frogs in my shower and bats in the dining room, but animals invading my room is another matter. I will never forget the time I got woken up there by something crawling over me, only to find once I turned on the light that a black mouse was sat on my pillow staring back at me – ARGH!
The trip up to Harare was pretty uneventful, other than being sat next to what I supposed to be a Jesus preacher who was practicing a speech about god that I guess he was about to give. He kept looking at me with great suspicion that possibly I was Satan reincarnated. Once getting to the lodge in Harare I spent the majority of the afternoon and following morning vegging in front of the TV – something I barely ever do at home, but it just felt like the best thing to do after spending almost 3 months working 80+ hour weeks with no time off. It was great to just sit and relax without anyone bothering me or anyone asking for anything. I don’t know when I’ll be able to have some time to chill like that again, as I presume my work hours will be pretty similar in CCF!
I got the flight from Harare to Jo’burg yesterday (Sunday) and arrived safely. I called the lodge that I was meant to be staying at for them to come pick me up but I couldn’t understand a word that the gentleman on the other end of the phone was saying to me so text my Mum to see if she could get a better grip on what the hell he was on about. Apparently her ears are no better than mine, so I gave up, thinking it was no great loss because if you can’t understand the bloody receptionist then it’s probably not a good sign! I went down to the main airport complex and found the tourist information booth, who sorted me out with a room in a dorm (which I would have all to myself) and an airport shuttle, all for less than the lodge were charging me. I headed to the hotel with two very tired-looking Aussies, who had just arrived from Sydney. Once arriving at the hotel and quickly checking my emails, I went to bed as I knew I’d be up EARLY the next day. How early, I didn’t quite realise.
After an initial bout of insomnia, I finally got to sleep at around 10 pm, only to wake up at 2 am with a start and not be able to get back to sleep again. I pottered around my room for a bit and slowly made my way to reception at 4 am to get the taxi to the airport. However, there was not a taxi driver in sight. I waited and waited, looking anxiously at my watch. I knocked on the reception door; no answer. I called the reception on my phone; no answer. I started to walk around the buildings to see if I could find anyone with no luck. I started to panic and called out for help. Fortunately a lovely lady came out from her room and gave me the number of the maintenance guy who she said would sort things. As luck would have it, just as I was calling, the taxi arrived – 25 mins late! I asked the guy where he was and said I was getting rather worried about missing my flight. He had no real excuse – only in Africa…
My flight to Windhoek ended up being over an hour late, they hadn't received my special meal request and gave me a dairy-free meal (with a yoghurt) that included a sausage. I complained; they took the sausage and yoghurt off, only to find there was an omelette underneath. I said I don't eat egg, they gave me a quiche. Finally they got the message and gave me a bread roll and fruit. Ugh, Namibia Airlines! When I arrived in Windhoek, after a pretty hairy questioning from Customs, the previous Ecologist at CCF met me at the airport to talk through things with me. Ater only having a few hours sleep I was super tired so barely took any of it in. I am not even sure what exactly I will be doing at CCF, but I guess all will become clear within the next 24 hours….