Tuesday October 19, 2010 | Transfrontier Africa | Michael Scholl

Tuesday October 19, 2010

I can’t believe we are actually here! This place is quite accurate to what I imagined. We are staying in bunks with two beds and around us there is only nature. There are no fences to keep the animals out so there is always a chance that a wild animal comes close to us. We also met the camp mascot: Goosy, the mangoose. She is so adorable! All of us have been thinking about kidnapping her when we leave, but we soon gave up on that idea when we noticed that they feed her chicken hearts. The rangers also seem really fun. There is Craig, who has a wicked sense of humor, John and Tim.

We had a camp fire last night and the rangers cooked some delicious South African meat and some potatoes on the fire. The food was so good and I have to admit that I was surprised that they could cook such good food with so little. It makes you wonder why restaurants need that much equipement, when they only used a sort of cross between a pan and a cauldron and fire.

We talked a little bit during the camp fire and Solange played some guitar, but I was still tired from the days before so I went to sleep straight away. I am a person that needs to sleep or else I am tired the whole day. Today we woke up at the sound of an unidentified animal. It was just a perfect start to a perfect day! I loved how already at 6 a.m the sun was out as if the day had started already a long time ago and that it was waiting for us to get up so that we could experience new things. We had breakfast and around 11 a.m we went for our first safari expedition. 

I had already been on a safari with my parents before, when i was younger, but this was different. There I was a tourist. Here, I was supposed to learn all I could and help later with the animals. We all had our cameras ready to take pictures of the animals and we listened to what John and Craig had to say. We saw zebras, Girafs, and even white rhino which are quite rare to see. A small fact that I found fascinationg and that I had no idea about. White rhino aren’t actually white. They don’t have a different color from black rhinos. The difference is that their horns are wider, so when once a person said these are WIDE rhinos, people misunderstood him, and so the WHITE rhino was created. It is funny how little mistakes can stick and never really go. At lunch time, we stoped at a small quiet lost place with a river and where no animals would come out and eat us (atleast that’s what they told us). We went  first in the water with our clothes on and splashed around. For us it was like a bath, since we hadn’t gotten near water since we had left the castle/hotel in Johannesburg and after we had cooled off, the rangers gave us a goal: Cook our own lunch. They gave us hamburgers, plates, bread and toppings for the hamburger. Elena, Solange, Hugo and I decided we should dig a hole in the sand and then put dry wood and leafs in it. Luckily we had a lighter to start the fire otherwise I would probably still be sitting there rubbing two branches together to get a spark. Then we had to decide how we would cook the meat over the fire. Solange had the idea to put the meat on the metallic plates and that we would cover it with aluminium and then put it in the fire. The idea worked quite well, although we couldn’t check when the meat was well cooked, so when we took it out the hamburgers were slightly burned. During all this time, Michael and Emilio were still splashing around in the water and the rangers were smiling at our attempts to cook. When we finished putting the meat between the hamburger bread we offered the first ones to the rangers but they refused since John was vegetarian and they insisted we ate first, so we did. Without flaunting our amazing cooking skills, I have to say that it tasted good, and god knows I am not a cook! It was around the time that we took off the burgers from the fire that the other two came out of the water. We hadn’t been able to put more then four burgers on a plate, so then the rangers showed us how they would have cooked the meat so that Emilio and michael could eat to. Craig showed us how to pick a two forked stick and all he did was put the meat on top of the the stick and held it over the fire. I was amazed at how well and easily that worked. Their way was so much simpler but more effectif, but the rangers had to give us credit for our original way because it still worked out and was way better then the attempts they had seen with other visitors. After we finished eating, we packed up and continued our journey through the bush. We saw some elephants up close that afternoon and when we were going back to the camp place the sun was going down, making the sky a magical pink. I have to say that my favourite part of the day, next to the animal sighting was the peacefullness. When we were driving and looking for animals, I would just get lost in my thoughts. The wind was blowing through my hair and the sun was shining with a soft glow. My imagination ran wild while I was looking at the trees passing by and I had so many new ideas for drawings and stories and I really regretted not having brought paper, but the ride had to end and we came back to the camp place. 

Now that Craig and John knew we could start a fire they asked us to make that evenings fire. We collected some branches and the fire started even faster then that aftrenoon. We all sat down around the fire with a pack of marshmallows and two marshmallow sticks. Craig and John put us in two teams: Elena and Hugo, Solange and I.

They would ask us questions about the facts that they told us that afternoon and if we got it right we would get a marshmallow. After 5 toasted marshmallows and 7 questions later, we started cooking the real food: African meat and couscous, but I am sad to say that I didn’t eat that much since I was filled with marshmallows. This evening we had a great atmosphere and we talked a lot with everyone and I feel like we really connected and that we all grew closer. Tonight was the first time it rained for a long time here. It was short, but quite strong and they told us that we will get a few of those showers the next few days. After that shower I decided to come back to the bunk and tell you what happened today. I think everything is going amazingly well Diary. I hope the rest of this week will go just as well.

written by Diane Danneels (International Baccalaureate IB Class of 2012 student)

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