Ok, all together now (in an English, but really South African accent)
"I can't believe the favor we've had — such favor!"
This is what Glenda (our hostess and one of the SA Scrapbook International Event coordinators) said multiple times a day as our group traveled together and experienced one amazing thing after another — we had incredible good luck (or favor) and were truly blessed by so many great people and opportunities that I doubt my short recap can adequately estimate the amazing time we had, but I will nonetheless give you a rundown of our itinerary on my recent trip to South Africa.
I will pick up where I left off (after our trip to Soweto) and say that things for me were MUCH better on the second day of teaching and beyond … after the event in Jo-berg, we flew to Port Elizabeth …
and the drove to the Kichaka Game Lodge, a truly 5-star experience!
The hippo even got out of the watering hole to greet us (such favor) and 14 or so camera shutters were flying from that moment on.
We were fed the most beautiful food I've ever seen. A spread like this was laid out for breakfast and lunch, while dinner was served restaurant style in a big dining room, where we ALL sat around one long table.
We met our game rangers and headed out on the first of four game drives. On my previous trip to South Africa, we saw giraffe and elephant only from a distance and saw lion only in a lion park — my secret wish that we would see these animals up close was more than granted!!
In fact, we had a legendary game ranger, named Francoise. Hhe was very quickly and quite appropriately dubbed, Francoise, The Man, The Ranger, The Legend in part because he possessed a wealth of knowledge beginning with the inner workings of termite mounds. Margie and I even accepted the challenge of eating a termite, which we were told is a decent source of protein should you be lost and still not eaten in the African bush. They tasted a bit like sage (really, not that bad!) and speaking of Margie, how cute is she in her Safari hat and scarves?
and here's my cute dad, the wildlife scout!
So, back to Francois. He began teaching us about animal dung and Hyena markings and then, early on the second morning, we came across fresh lion tracks …
which quickly led us to a fresh lion kill …
Yes. That is a lion, twenty yards from my open-air jeep eating what was a few hours prior a free-roaming Eland. See what I mean, such favor! Francois kept saying "You guys are so lucky!" It was absolutely phenomenal to be this close to the "top of the food chain" and yet on a sub-conscious level somewhat disturbing too. I have had it confirmed to me that we still possess primal fears of becoming prey to wild animals, because I have had *freaky lion dreams* almost every night since hanging out with the lion. Since these three lion had fresh food, they stayed put near a small tree for the two days that we were at the lodge so we were able to check in on them morning and night …
and we did.
I now consequently have hundreds of lion photos, and it took me until just recently to deal with my lion pictures from my last lion adventure (in 2005.)
I will be doing some serious paring down, so that I can find and use just my favorites — like this one! I will set up an album here on the blog with a collection of favorite photos. You can also check out our group's Shutterfly site and see photos from people that are far better photographers than I am.
I do have a pretty nice lens that helps me get close, but I need you to understand how close we were to begin with. Amazingly close to elephants and …
giraffe and …
warthog (which btw, taste much better than they look) and …
rhino and WOW. wow. The whole experience was phenomenal.
After leaving the game lodge we drove for the better part of two days from Port Elizabeth down to Cape Town, on what is known as The Garden Route. We made short stops at a lovely scrapbook store and other picturesque places to shop and/or eat. My dad and I were in a car all by ourselves with Aunty Val (crossing my fingers one of my travel mates snapped a photo of Val?) who was so delightful. She knew something about everything and so in addition to seeing lots of countryside we were treated to all kinds of historical information, personal insight and interesting stories.
We had a little dinner/gathering in Cape Town with several local scrapbookers and then got up the next morning and headed up to Table Mountain.
Because of the cloudy weather, we were discouraged from purchasing tickets for the tram. But once on top, ALL the clouds lifted/disappeared and we had glorious 360 degree views of the entire area (there's that favor again.) It was cold, but clear and breathtaking!
The absolute highlight for me was the chance to take a "once in a lifetime" trip again and this time take it with my dad. I loved being with him and hearing his stories and enjoying his humor and watching him see so many of the things that I found life-changing the first time around.
For this and so much more I am indebted to Glenda and EVERYONE that planned and worked to make this event a success and then left work and home to escort us all over — spending time with our hosts and the other guests made our time so very memorable.
Thank YOU Glenda and Gary (pictured here) and Kyle and Val and Louise and Tiffany and all of your families and thank you brilliant delegates for sharing your talents and coming to share and learn. Thank YOU for EVERYTHING. Should you ever decide to come to my little corner of the world, you have a ready hostess and eager guide.
Not sure I have anything quite this brilliant, but I'll figure something out!