At the end of most of the trips I am happy to go home, so I was really surprised when I was torn between going home and staying for longer. And even now I have such a strong South Africa hangover that it barely registers that in about two weeks I would be trekking in Nepal again. So why do I miss South Africa so?
Those Happy Smiles
10. For the Warm People and Smiles: Every where I went I found people who would smile and generally be happy. How can I not miss it? And this is just the beginning.
Musicians, Durban, South Africa
9. For South African Music: If you have been reading this blog even for a little while have you ever and I mean ever seen me talk music? And here I am talking about missing music. You tell me you did see me posting a music/dance video not so long ago? Well my dear friend it was after all a Dance from South Africa!
Sunset, Manyeleti Game Reserve, South Africa
8. Those Sunsets and Starry Nights: Sunset and night sky in South Africa is epic but my pictures are not and they do no justice. In fact I don’t have one of the starry night. But that is one sight I still carry in my eyes.
The Souvenir Shops, Panorama Route, South Africa
7. Those Souvenir Shops: I am not much of a shopper and by my standards I shopped a lot at South Africa. Many small things for family, some fabulous earrings for me. How I miss those vibrant colors that the shops put on display! We had to drag each-other away from the shops most of the time!
6. Food: Once again how many times have you seen me discussing food? I am a vegetarian on top of it as well. And South Africa is by no means a country for vegetarians. They have exotic meats and would pity you if you do not eat it. But once the folks knew there were a bunch of vegetarians in our group they would always find stuff for us, stuff that tasted good. Also plenty to drink and I am glad I discovered Amarula. So much so that on my flight back instead of my usual wine I asked for Amarula which got a chuckle from the cabin crew!
5. The Hospitality and the Sense of Humor: South African sense of humor is over the top! If you ask which bird was that- the answer could be ‘flying bananas’! I will show you a flying banana a bit later, there were cool bananas and simply bananas too! And these are the tame stories I am telling you!
The Roads, Panorama Route, South Africa
4. The Roads: Every nation I visit I get impressed by their roads. And yes you can go ahead and say that is because I am from India. I specially miss the roads from the panorama route! They seem to reach beyond the horizon. And look at the amount of traffic? Why would I not miss them! And their sense of driving is so civilized.
Listening to Erick on the Bush Walk, Manyeleti Game Reserve, South Africa
3. The Bush Walk and the Talks: I simply love walking. After all I pay money to walk when I go on my treks! And the bush walk at the Manyeleti Game Reserve with Erick was something equally special! So were the talks we had in our group! One among us wanted to become a chef so that he could stay back as ‘much in demand Indian chef’ in town. I wanted to check out the local universities and another person wanted to volunteer. We wanted to hire a caravan and drive through Botswana! Those walks and talks!
The Red Billed Hornbill, Mayeleti Game Reserve, South Africa
2. The Small Things: I miss the small sightings. This is a Red Billed Hornbill and its yellow billed cousin is also known as the flying banana in that part of the world.
1. And the Big things: This was the sight that greeted us as soon as we arrived at the Tintswalo Safari Lodge! After a long photo session I realized that I dropped my handbag right in the middle of the path and simply ran to the fence which was about 20 feet away from these magnificent African elephants! Can you blame me for missing South Africa?
I stopped at Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary only for a few hours. I wish I had more time. When I got there I stood with others to listen to the rangers telling us the story of their elephants.
It was obvious from the way they told the story that the elephants were a big part of their life! This is a story of conflict between human beings and the beast. As forests were cleared to sustain human beings the elephant came into a conflict with the villages. And unless made aware, we human beings can do a lot of damage to the beasts too! This is where the rangers from the National Elephant Conservation Center, Kuala Gandah come in. They make the people aware of the rights of the beasts and try to rescue rouge elephants. I heard and read that otherwise poisonous baits were put for the elephants.
The park allows visitors to feed the elephants, take a ride on them and bath the baby elephants. I saw the feeding happen when i was there but could not watch the other two activities. I headed back to their auditorium for the video presentation.
The video highlights the efforts of the rangers and what does it take to capture, transport, rehabilitate and release a wild elephant! It is a story that will capture your heart. It is a story to be watched and experienced. I wonder if it would be a good idea to put that documentary on Youtube? Tranquilizing a beast and then transporting it causes a lot of trauma to the elephant and it reflected in the faces of the people as well who do the job. From the documentary I could gather that the money is scarce and the rangers work against a lot of odds. Their ultimate aim is to release the animals in the wild again but they do not have enough money to successfully track the animals. The video ends on a very bittersweet note.
When I walked out into the sun again I saw these red berries glowing in the light. What a contrast to the shades of gray I saw through the documentary.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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