Wednesday October 27, 2010 | Transfrontier Africa | Michael Scholl

Wednesday October 27, 2010

Dear Diary, 

Another couple of days have gone by without having told you what has been happening. I probably should start with the beginning. 

So, where was I? Oh right! I was feeling much better, and everyone was planning to go on a game drive that evening. Also, a couple and their three kids, that Michael knows and are also from Switzerland, were supposed to arrive that afternoon. They were going to stay just a night in the tent and then go back to Johannesburg. The family was already a week in South Africa and they had been going around the different reserves, seeing different environnements and animals. It was a bit after the family arrived that I started feeling sick again and not just a bit. The family must have had a bad impression of me, because when they saw me, I kept on coughing and my head was hurting as if a hammer was thumping in my head. While Craig was explaining to everyone that we were going to search for Impalas and how we were going to identify them, I was sitting on my seat with my eyes closed to keep the room from spinning. After his speech, Craig got up and told us to get into the range rover so that we could go. I cracked. I told Michael I couldn’t go, since I thought I was going to be ill. Michael said that was okay, since he was planning on not going anyway, since there wasn’t enough place on the truck anyways. Instead we went to river lodge, the place with the swimming pool. There were no guests, since they were all on a game drive with Amy, there was only Tammy, a woman that also took care of the lodge with Amy. She was really friendly and she gave us the internet password, so that Michael and I could use our laptops. I only used it for about 10 minutes, because the screen started blurring in front of my eyes and I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. I then sat down on the couch and stayed there for probably an hour. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. I couldn’t even sleep.

Finaly, we went back to the campng place, when Michael finished his work. The moment we arrived, I made my way to the long chair and slumped down on it. I didn’t move from that chair for a long time and I was starting to think that I really needed a doctor. Michael clearly thought the same thing, since he told me he would ask Craig for his number and that we would go the next day. That made me feel a bit better, since at least I knew that the day after I would be feeling better. The others came back and Solange and Elena came to see how I was feeling. That night they were really amazing. They sat next to me, while I was burning up, talking to me and making me laugh, which then resulted into a series of coughs, but the fact that somebody was there helped. They even gave me the two bracelets they had gotten from the village the day before, telling me that it would make me feel better, but even they couldn’t do much at the end. I was still suffering and I knew that they would probably prefer to be somewhere else. To top it all of, it started too thunder and lightning and everyone knows that those signs mostly mean that rain is going to come. We didn’t have to wait long. The rain came hard and unrelentless. The wind accompanied the rain and it was so strong that intead of the rain falling vertically, the rain came down diagonally. I couldn’t take it any more. I went back to the room, with no food in my stomach. The sight I got when I arrived in the room was incredibly bad. The windows had been open and so our papers were allover the place and the rain was entering the room. I closed everything as fast as I could, but the damage had been done. I started cleaning verything, although my brain was about to explode. I finaly got the room in order and I layed down in the bed soaking wet from the rain. I had to change otherwise I would get even sicker, so I put on my pyjama and I went to sleep. Or at least I tried to. I hadn’t noticed earlier, but the wind was blowing so strong that the cabin was actually shaking! I felt really unsafe and I was genuinely worried that the wind would blow away the house and me with it. So while, I was in the room alone, worried about the wind, the others were outside in the rain laughing. I wished I could be out there with them, but the cold was paralysing me and the big sweater I had put on wasn’t helping. I finaly did fall asleep. How, I don’t know, but the next morning I woke up coughing and Solange sleeping next to me. I felt better then the night before, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t last. I knew I had to go to the doctors, because I wasn’t getting any better. I took a shower since I didn’t seem human any more under all those layers of dirt and then Craig phoned the doctors, after breakfast, and Craig being Craig had scared the receptionist silly. He called her and told her that they a sick patient there in paradise camp, but he seemed to get cut off, because a minute she calls back. Instead of resuming the conversation like a normal person would do he tells her that the problem is solved because I am dead in a serious tone. The receptionist freaks out immediately and reassures her that I am still alive… for now. He also kept on insisting how my name was DIE-ane. He got a rendez-vous and so we got into the car and drove to the doctor. It was only Michael, Craig and me that went to the doctors, while the others went on a safari. We arrived there quickly and didn’t need to wait long in the waiting room. The doctor came out and introduced himself and took me to the examination room. 15 or so mintes later with a diagnosed bronchitis and I need to take antibiotics. We thank the doctor and go buy the medecine needed. After we went to eat in the surroundings. We went to a little place, that looked really pretty with it’s flowers and trees. We sat down outside and even I, who hadn’t eaten for the past few days, got hungry looking at the menu. At the end I only ordered a margerita pizza, while Craig had a sandwich and Michael a burger. Craig and Michael talked a bit while we waited for the food, and I was gulping down the water that tasted so nice and fresh. I also went to the bathroom and it is funny how I was gratefull for that toilet. The food came after and we all dug in. Well, I started digging in but already after the first slice, I was feeling incredibly full. I still ate a second slice so that I atleast had some food in my stomach before eating my medicine. After my two slices I took out the medicine out of the paper bag. I swallowed one antibiotic pill, two blue pills against fever and pain and I had two spoonfull of syrup. I still wasn’t feeling better, but just the fact that i had my medicine made me optimistic about later. Craig then got a phone call like usual and so he had to take it since without him the reserve would probably stop working. I sat down on a little chair that was even more in the shade since the sun had turned and had started shining on me. Michael also went to test the bathroom and it was at this time that a woman around her forties came towards me. The conversation went something like this:

-‘Hi honey, I noticed that you weren’t feeling that well. You sound really sick! I am a nurse at the hospital, I can maybe help.”

-‘Oh thank you for your concern, but i just went to the doctor.”

-‘Which Doctor?”

-“Eh… I can’t remember…”

-“One close to here?”


-“What did he say you have?”


-“Oh well my dear, that can get quite dangerous, since it can become pneumonia. You should really take some medicine.”

-“I just did.”

-“Well keep on drinking to and  get a lot of rest. I noticed you came from the bush. The way of living can get quite harsh.”

-“Yes, thank you for your help.”

-“Get better then sweetie!” and then she left.

I have to admit that the whole scene surprised me and it just shows how nice and friendly the people in South Africa are compared to people in Switzerland. The woman was so adorable to have gotten up from her seat, where she was having a quiet lunch, and go and check on the girl who was coughing her lungs out. It amazed me. When I told Michael the story, after he came back, he told me he wasn’t surprised, because people were always this caring. I just wish people could do that in Switzerland! 

When Craig was finished with his call, we went back to the car and drove back to the reserve. The trip back seemed shorter then going, but that may be because I was also starting to feel better. I was even talking, which I hadn’t really been doing those few days. It was when we crossed the barrier that I was starting to feel queasy again. The feeling intensified the closer we got to Craig’s office, which was where we were going to meet the rest to go on a game drive. We arrived in the office and I almost vomited, but since i had eaten almost nothing, nothing came out. The others arrived and when they saw how I was doing, everyone though it would be better if I don’t go on that game drive. Although it saddened me, I knew it was the best descision and so Michael stayed with me at his expense. We arrived at the camp and I just fell down in the long chair. Of course Goosy had to come annoy me and so I couldn’t even relax. Michael went to get some fire wood as his daily ritual and he took Goosy with him so that I would get some peace. While he was gone, I was starting to feel much better, almost as if I wasn’t sick anymore, except that I coughed atleast once every minute. Michael came back and he told me he had lost Goosy and he had had to look for her for about 20 minutes. When he finaly did find her, she bit him and didn’t let go. That’s how he got her in the car. While we were waiting for the others to come back, we sat around the fire and talked about a great passion of mine: musicals. I had more knowledge about the subject then him and so talked for a long time. I probably talked that much because I needed to get rid of all that silence I had been in the last few days. The others arrived and the first one to pass was Elena so we asked her what they saw. Elena said ask Solange. Michael and I shot each other quizzical looks, wondering why she wouldn’t tell us. We asked Solange and she said ask the others. Wow this was weird. I almost though they saw a dead guy or something gruesome like that, but it was when Emilio passed that we figured out what they saw. A leopard. The rarest animal to see from the big five. I could see that Michael was really disapointed that he didn’t see the leopard, and again I felt incredibly guilty! He had never seen one and I come along and stop him from seeing one. Elena and Solange were annoyed that Emilio told us, since they didn’t want us to know, because they knew we would be disapointed. The evening went along uneventfully and after I took my medicine I went to bed. 

Tuesday moring, I wake up and again I sweated through my clothes. It took me some time to get up and go to breakfast and I think that the only thing that got me going was the thought that I had to get my medicine in me. I ate a bit and had my medicine and I was feeling fine, until all of a sudden my stomach seems to be blowing up. I had enough of this! The moment I was feeling better, something else came up and I just couldn’t take it anymore! I think that by now Craig and John thought that I was a wuss. They just didn’t understand that not everyone is as strong as they are! As I was dying on the long chair, Michael brought me this drink with some digestive mixture. He wanted me to drink it, because he thought that my stomach was hurting because I hadn’t had enough food  with my drugs. The concotion didn’t really seem to work though since 20 minutes later I was still in the same place and then all of a sudden, everything was fine. Nothing else happened until later that afternoon when we left for a game drive. It was my first game drive since a while and I forgot to put in my contacts. I was feeling a bit dizzy before where we left but when we were moving, I felt so much better! I didn’t see much though, but I didn’t mind. Everything was going well and that made me incedibly happy. There weren’t a lot of animals though, since there was a lot of wind, so in a little lost place, we stopped and we were allowed to get out of the range rover, which was usually strictly forbidden. We took some pictures and then Elena started tying John to the range rover, and Solange and I quickly started helping. He let us do not thinking that the next thing we were going to do would be less innocent. We took my red colored labello and gave him red cheeck and red lips. In his hair, we put elastics, making him look like a barbie doll! He tried to struggle, but the ropes were too tight and the rest of  the gus were laughing and taking pictures. John was still tied to the range rover when he heard someone on the range rover. Hugo held the radio to his mouth so he could talk. He then said: 

“Guys, I think you should release me, because there are some lions that are waiting for us!”

He didn’t have to tell us twice! We released him immediatly and sat down impatient to see the lions. John wiped his face while he was driving and after some minutes of driving we saw the first lioness. Shortly after we saw he second one, but it was already dark and we couldn’t see a lot, especialy me, since I had no contacts or glasses. We didn’t stay long and we quickly made our wa back to the camp. We had some dinner and I was starting to feel sick again, so I went back to my cabin after listening to  my friends. Somebody said somthing then that surprised me since I never thought that that person could be so categoric. I won’t say who it was, in case someone reads this journal, but let me tell you what happened. We were sitting around the fire and the radio was playing music. Emilio said I like this song and the person said: 

-“How can you like this song!? It is horrible! You have a bad taste in music!” The person may have said it slightly jokingly, but i could see that Emilio was a bit hurt and then I thought bad music doesn’t exist. There may be a song that you, personaly, don’t like, but that doesn’t make it a bad song. A few days earlier a song was playing that I really liked because it meant a lot to me and then the same person went to turn it of and said that the song was for wusses. I thought, it’s not your choice what song we should listen to and which not, but I kept quiet. When a few days later the person did a similar thing it just annoyed me so incredibly much and i wanted to tell the person, but i couldn’t, and mentally i made a note to myself never to say that a song was bad and just say that I don’t like it. After this revelation I went to the bunk and fell asleep. 

This morning it took me a century to wake up. I just couldn’t stand up and my head was killing me. I went down for a quick breakfast and then quickly came back up and now I am writing in you. I caught you up now with everything that happened!  I will tell you what will happen next later Diary!

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

© / Michael Scholl Copyright 2012 for TransFrontier Africa and Craig Spencer