I am in South Africa for two weeks teaching, and I took advantage of my free weekend to travel out to a game reserve. Yes, that is me knitting while standing next to an elephant. I am standing in front of the restaurant at the game reserve, which is located next to a large watering hole where the elephants come to drink every day. Thank you to Roy, the lovely man who took the photo; when I told him and his wife that I wanted a photo of me knitting with the elephants for my blog, they said “What a lovely idea!” instead of “Sorry, lady, but you are crazy! You need help!”
Above is a photo taken the day before where I am sitting on the back porch of my room while an elephant wanders in the bush just below me. This was a very cool and surreal experience.
I went on a game drive one evening. It was great fun. Here is a list of the animals which we saw while on the drive: vervet monkeys, hippos, red hartebeest, wildebeest, warthogs, zebras, white rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, impala, blestbok, kudu, jackals, waterbok, springbok, nyala, and eland. I didn’t take many photos, and am also having some difficulties with bandwidth here, so I will only show you a few. I am not sure, but I think the beautiful animal below is an impala.
We came across a family of giraffes, including a three week old baby:
We were in an all-terrain open vehicle, and driving through the bush – really off-road. This last week there has been torrential rain here, so there was mud everywhere. At one point, our vehicle got stuck in the mud, and we had to all get out and stand in the bush, while trying to get the vehicle loose from the mud. We gathered tree branches and vegetable matter to stick under the wheels, but it took a good 20 minutes to get it loose, and in the meantime we were all sure that we would get eaten by hippos! We drove through the game reserve for three hours and came so close to the animals it was astonishing (and a bit scary). The rhinos were the hit – at one point we were about 8 feet away (too close in my opinion). Here is a photo of me in the vehicle with rhinos just beyond me. (Thank you, Ian, for taking the photo!)
Here is a not very good photo of zebras, but it gives you a good idea of the kind of countryside we were driving through. It is pretty astonishing to be driving along and come across a herd of zebras. There were about twenty or so zebras in this group, including quite a few young ones.
The amazing thing is that we were still quite close to Johannesburg; this was an 80 minute drive from my hotel in Jo’burg, but really felt far removed. It is a whole different world from the city. I am told that it doesn’t come close to the kind of experience you would have in the Kruger, but for a weekend break, it was pretty cool! On the Saturday, I sat down in the restaurant for lunch, and looked up to see an elephant outside the window. Here is the photo I took from my seat while eating lunch:
People here are very friendly. My driver, Sipho, is a great companion on the road and we shared many stories. He brought his wife along on the return trip, and we all got to enjoy the elephants and good conversation. I was traveling by myself, but found people to sit with, and chat with, and eat with. I shared a lovely dinner with two Australians, one from Brisbane and one from Sydney, who were here attending a conference. (Thanks, Ian and Lisa. And thanks also for the wine!) Today, I sat in the sun for a while sharing drinks and chatting with two lovely South African families, Nicol and her husband and young son, and Roy with his wife, who prove that 74 is the new 50! I was knitting all morning while sitting and chatting with them, so perhaps they weren’t put off by my request for photos of me knitting with elephants. And, of course, I felt compelled to knit while leaning against the sign saying “Danger Elephants” in front of said elephants!