We left our hotel for the O. R. Tambo International airport in Johannesburg, South Africa last week on Tuesday at 7 PM. We walked into our Atlanta home exactly 32 hours later and were greeted by two very surly cats. They don’t appreciate it when we travel.
But our trip was totally worth this past week of feeling like the floor of the girls bathroom after a Justin Bieber concert.
What an amazing journey!
We started out in Cape Town which was stunning. Ancient Table Mountain presides over this glittering, modern city on a peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. But on the other hand, there were also the townships. Thousands of Cape Town residents crowded in corrugated metal shanties with shared walls and shared outdoor facilities. We found this stark contrast of wealth and poverty throughout our travels in South Africa.
We learned early in our visit that South Africa is a country with a pretty complicated present but an even more complicated past. However, despite the hardships people have endured, we were always greeted with a smile, a kind word and a hopeful, positive attitude.
“Things are turning around!” We heard that over and over. And we believe them!
Confession time… AGMA doesn’t know the first thing about writing a travel blog, so I won’t even attempt to give you a full summary of our trip. That would probably be as interesting as my batsh*t crazy Tour de France posts. And we all know how much you love them.
I will tell you that, if you want to eat fabulous food and drink amazing wine for the price of a Happy Meal, go to South Africa! A strong dollar + a weak rand = massive meat/seafood consumption and many wine buzzed nights. A honkin’ huge steak in a really nice, upscale restaurant was about $10 (included sides). And a great bottle of pinotage (made from a unique SA varietal grape) to go with the steak was about $8.
It was hard coming back and paying $25 for a pepperoni pizza and two beers.
The great exchange rate also allowed for AGMA basic essentials shopping. But that might have to be a separate post. Let’s just say that, despite mocking others who do the same thing, I took a half-empty extra big suitcase in anticipation of the need to purchase quite a few “incidentals”. This was a wise move.
And we saw all kinds of critters. The Big Five – Cape buffalo, rhino, leopard, lion and elephant. Baboons, zebras, giraffe, warthogs, monkeys, wildebeests, hippos, and crocodiles too. And lots and lots and lots of antelope/deer kind of animals. Lion chow as I called them.
We did a game drive in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. My hubs, who watched too many episodes of Dakari in the 60’s, thought we were going on a safari. I told him it couldn’t be a safari unless he had a pith helmut. He looked sad.
To understand this next part, you need to know that, at home, when hubs is watching a nature show on TV, I make him change the channel if it looks like something is going to kill/eat something else. I know it’s Elton John’s Circle of Life, but I’d rather watch Big Bang reruns.
Well, my worst nightmare almost came true with no option to change channels. We saw a lioness stalking a group of zebras. Close up. For like 20 minutes.
It was mesmerizing.
She got within 25 feet of these really stupid zebras (seriously, nobody noticed her or smelled the warthog on her breath?) and hid in a clump of bushes to get ready for the kill. But a big herd of Cape buffalo came tromping by right next to her hiding place and spoiled her surprise. I had no idea, but it turns out that Cape buffalo are the gangsta’s of Africa. They weren’t going to put up with any this stalking nonsense and chased her away. Then the zebras noticed. And ran away. Idiots.
The narration of the video I shot of this whole scene is quite compelling. Lots of gasping and “oh my God’s” and “run away zebras” and “stupid zebras” and “oh no’s”. And everybody else in the jeep laughing at me.
AGMA is no Marlin Perkins.
On our Kruger National Park game drive (hubs still insisted on calling it a safari sans pith helmet…), we were treated to lion entertainment of a different sort.
At one point, the ranger pointed out two lions sleeping behind a rock. All we could see was the rock. The park ranger assured us there indeed was a male and a female behind the rock. He said they were on their “honeymoon”. We named them Alice and Ralph.
After ten minutes of staring at the rock, Alice started to stir. She got up and walked behind some bushes. Ralph dutifully trotted after her.
To get a better, unobstructed view of these magnificent creatures for our pictures, the ranger pulled the jeep up beyond the bushes.
And there in front of us were Alice and Ralph shagging like a couple of kids at Woodstock. There was an awkward silence in the jeep. Then the camera’s started clicking.
Nothing like a little lion porn for the iCloud slideshow.
And as quickly as it started, it was over. The ranger said it only takes 7 seconds or so. Alice bared her teeth, growled at Ralph and he walked away. He probably went to get a cigarette.
AGMA wants to be a lioness in her next life…
It was really difficult to come back home from this wonderful trip. We didn’t turn on the TV or check the news on our phones at all while we were gone.
Blissfully, we had nearly two Donald Trump-free weeks.
I think maybe we need to send some Cape buffalo to one of his rallies. They won’t put up with his nonsense either.
Run away zebras!