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Iman's Blog

Kruger National Park pt. 1

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've been camping many times before, but this was the ultimate test of survival. After a long 5 hour drive from Johannesburg through winding mountains and rural countryside, we arrived at one of Kruger National Park's bush camps. We were briefed about where we would be sleeping, when we would be going out on walks and game drives, and to check our sleeping bags nightly for scorpions.

Now I have this thing with bugs and insects.....i cant stand them. I shiver every time i see a Caterpillar, and freak out even at the smallest of grasshoppers. I never really gave much thought about coming within a 2 feet radius of a spider if i didn't have to, let alone a scorpion! I can promise you my blood went cold as I heard one of our rangers, Jakes, explain to us what we should do if we encountered one of those little nuances: "Just scream and someone will come". That's it? Honestly? no complementary Scorpion-be-gone?!? You could tell that I was reeeeeealy looking forward to sleeping that night!

We then went to our cabins, all girls in one, all guys in one, and picked our bunks. There were 32 individual beds, 16 bunks for us 7 girls to choose from, so we all got top bunks close to each other. After i selected my bunk (away from the corners and windows of the cabin....) we went on a game drive.

You know how when you go to amusement parks with safari rides and you think its the coolest thing ever, seeing mechanical elephants and electrical giraffes? Then at the end they take your picture that has you pointing at the fake zebra? They don't do real game drives justice. We climbed onto a huge off-road vehicle, no hood, no doors or windows, no SEAT BELTS. Just benches-slightly cushioned- and a metal bar to hold onto. Now the set-up of this particular vehicle was awkward. the first seat was up super high, while the second was like 2 feet lower, the third was 1 foot lower, then the last row was the same height as the first. So once it started to get super windy Andrew, Mary, Stephanie and I, immediately became the buffer for everyone else from the wind.....and animals.

Within the first 15 minutes, I had been thrown up and down and all around from the unevenness of the terrain and was seriously starting to think that i had a brain hemorrhage, when we saw or first animal. I knew elephants were big animals, i guess i just never really comprehended it. These things were monsters with huge noses and and ginormous ears! I was probably in shock before I actually touched one, because once i felt the leathery hide of it's nose, I suddenly realized 'wow, I'm not in Iowa anymore'! In the background, I could hear millions of clicks going off, most likely Suwanee and her camera. It started to get dark fast that night, and we had to break out the spotlight. I had the honor of holding it and lighting the surrounding environment. Eventually we found an animal that was considered rare even to the rangers at the camp. Two cheetahs! It was really awesome seeing them just behind some bushes. Everyone was freaking out and jumping up an down in their seats.

Once we got back to the the camp, we had dinner and watched an educational video on the Camp's history. After we said all our good nights, the scariest part of the entire trip was about to happen. WE HAD TO GO TO BED.

It was bad enough that the lights to our cabin we located outside and at the bottom of the stairs, but now it was actually time to sleep IN the "horror shack". Immediately I took out my bottle of Off bug spray and doused my bunk with it. I sprayed all the corners and the surrounding bunks. I'm surprised no one said anything, maybe they were trying to be nice? But then the bathroom situation probably was occupying their minds more than anything.

There were 5 individual toilet rooms and 3 sinks with showers in the same room. With the abundance of resources at our hands, you'd expect that we'd have no problem freshening up. Wrong. All 7 of us used only one of the toilets, afraid of the other creatures lurking in the other stalls plus, some were just unusable! :] We all used the same shower, with the water setting on only ICE COLD. One of the sinks one night sprung a leak, and it was chaos with me and Mary trying to figure out what to do. Another night, i saw a frog hop out of the toilet that i was about to use and decide on just not using the bathroom that day. Overall the experience was fun, trying to use the restrooms and showers, and defiantly made me think to be happy with the condition that my bathroom was in and that the first thing i would do once i got home was to take a nice looooooonnng bath.


Scout said...

try China where there's sometimes no door for any of the stalls... and instead of a toilet or a squat-toilet, you see a gaping hole in the tile and you look down upon a small mountain...

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