151 Elephants

We spent a few hours in Hluhluwe Game Reserve on my first visit to Jess on her course. We got in for free using our new Rhino Card. For ages now we have battled to see eles in KZN parks. In fact in Mkhuze last year I offered the kids a reward if they spotted fresh ele poo!! Not even the live animals themselves! Nothing.

As always Jess was the spotter: “Dad! Elephants! Stop!” She does NOT want to get close, so we stopped a good 200m away and watched as 30 eles of all sizes sauntered past on a road across a streambed from where we were parked. In another first, I was without my binocs! The last time that happened was 2003. I only had my spares that live in the car, not my proper Zeiss’. Can’t believe what getting ancient does to one.

Then “Dad, there are more” – and then more. And more. They were all headed for the Hluhluwe river so we found an overlook on a bend and watched and counted.

Hluhluwe Jess May17 (24)

Hluhluwe Jess May17 (18)

We counted 150 eles! Our ele drought has been broken. One teenage ele took exception to the presence of the warthogs, rushing them, shaking his ears. They basically ignored him, scampering away at the last minute and trotting straight back to their positions in defiance of him.

On the way out a lone ele ran out of the bush across the road right in front of us, making it 151.

 

 

 

Jess on a Field Guide Course

Set in a beautiful sand forest, Ehlathini bush camp is where Bhejane Nature Training courses take place. Up in Zululand north of Hluhluwe village within sight of the north-west arm of Lake St Lucia, the camp borders iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Jess to Zululand Training Course (15)

Jess was assigned a wooden cabin in a mango orchard to share with Lydia from London.

Jess to Zululand Training Course (13)

Jess to Zululand Training Course (39)

Better than a tent, eh Jess? “Just, Dad!” Lydia from London had arrived before her, so got the better bed!

With much trepidation and bravery Jess waved me goodbye and started her first extended spell away from home!


Update: She’s now in Ebandla Trails Camp in Amakhosi Reserve up near Nongoma. She’s out of comms but today they were up on a hill and she borrowed her friend Blessing’s phone and let me now she’s well: Hey Dad, We walked right near an ele herd, and a lioness with a cub, and we’re staying here till Sunday 28th May, and will I visit when they get back to Ehlathini that day? –  “Sure thing my love!”

At night they took turns standing guard while their colleagues slept.

Jess & Lydia being brave:

Lions roared in the dark nearby. This scared them, but not as much as harmless spider they found in the wooden camp back at base camp.

Jessie’s Team: She was one of the two teenagers. The rest ranged from low twenties to mid-thirties – and one aged 67.

The course proved very challenging, the lectures long (“and boring, Dad”) and Jess decided not to wait for the exams.

The books and notes were more extensive than I’d have predicted when I booked her on the course:

 


Ehlathini – ‘in the forest’

Ebandla – ‘where men assemble’

Amakhosi – ‘of the chiefs’

Bhejane – ‘black rhino’

Hluhluwe – ‘thorny monkey rope (creeper)’

iSimangaliso – ‘miracle; wonder; surprise’

 

Cape Vidal Camping

So I took these –

Cape Vidal Apr17 (50)

to here –

and when they saw these harmless creatures –

they squealed and ran out of the campsite shouting “I’m taking an uber home!”

Cape Vidal Apr17 (71)

’twas like casting pearls before swine . . . .

Holy Green Underpants

Who remembers the AWB’s Eugene Terreblanche? Who can forget him? I bumped into him one day ca 1999.

Driving my hired car in a crowded Pretorius Street in downtown Pretoria one fine day  I slowed down to let a car wanting in move around a stationary truck. It pulled past the truck and went back into the left lane and slowed so that I drew next to it. The driver wound down his window and gave me a very sincere “Baie dankie, ek waardeer dit terdeë in that voice, staring straight at me with his pale blowtorch blue* eyes. It was Eugene Terreblanche himself. Charismatic bliksem.

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Like this, except he was driving and he didn’t smile – he was all sincerity and dankbaarheid.

Terreblanche in car

Famous for his 1988 / 89 liaison with Sunday Times reporter Jani Allan.

Jani Allan.jpg

His large white bottom and his green underpants hit the news. In court: Further testimony was given by AWB financial secretary Mej. Kays Smit. Smit testified that Allan had phoned her to come and remove a drunken Terre’Blanche from her flat early one morning because Allan was expecting someone and was anxious to get rid of him. Smit testified to finding Terre’Blanche on Allan’s couch “naked except for a khaki jacket around his shoulders and a pair of green underpants with holes in them”.

I have inspected my own underpants carefully ever since, and replace them more frequently than I used to. You never know . . . .


 

*Jani Allan’s description of his penetrating gaze! She wrote “Right now I’ve got to remind myself to breathe … I’m impaled on the blue flames of his blowtorch eyes.”

“Baie dankie, ek waardeer dit terdee” – Thank you, sincerely appreciated

dankbaarheid – gratitude

 

 

Thunderhead

I read Thunderhead by Mary O’Hara as a kid and loved it. Horse ranching and racing in the mountains of Wyoming. The description of a thunderhead as a huge, solid-looking towering cloud formation always stayed with me. The horse was named after the cloud:

Thunderhead.jpg

And today I saw one over the Indian Ocean as I left work. It was away to the South East, reflecting the setting sun behind me.

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The Learners Licence Learning Curve

Sat with Jess in the long queue at the Marianhill Drivers Test Centre.

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This time we had all the required ducks waddling in formation like Egyptian goslings (which are ducks, not true geese) and R150 later we had a booking for two days time: Jessie’s first attempt at her learners test!

She came out with a stiff upper lip but it was quivering and when in the car and driving out she dissolved and blubbed ‘I failed!’ – even though we had rehearsed how it didn’t matter, how the first attempt is often failed and how persevering was the main thing. She still didn’t like it and was NEVER going to try again.

But she will.