Hello! My name is PaDi and I’m a Yellow Bean Duck. I started life as a little mascot for the English team of Pay Diamond, which is how I got my name. Being a mascot was exciting, because it meant I got to travel and meet new people, and see interesting things.

Now I am a travelling duck! I have been to so many exciting places in the last year, riding on trains, planes, boats and buses – accompanied by my mom and dad who are not ducks (which is a good thing because Bean Ducks are not very accomplished fliers), so I do need a bit of help to get around. Besides, when I get tired I can have a nap in my mom’s pocket or in her bag…

I am going to share some of my stories with you, in the hopes that I can entertain you and maybe even inspire you to do a little travelling of your own. It’s a big world out there, and so many miles of smiles to experience. New faces, new places… Most of the people I have met have been very happy to meet me too, except for one grumpy policeman in Milan, Italy. Maybe he was grumpy because he had to wear funny purple striped breeches, but I thought they were cool. Oh well, I didn’t really worry that the policeman didn’t want to say hello because his horse liked me!

So come along for the ride, it’s probably gonna be a bit off the wall at times, but it’s gonna be fun! See you in the next installment of my Yellow Duck Diaries…

Big Quacks

PaDi xx



Meet Adam at the Tsogo Sun Silverstar Garden of Eden…and get In It To Win It!  



Are you a Silverstar Rewards Cardholder? If so, you are in for a treat for the next 6 weeks – and you won’t have to watch out for snakes hiding in apple trees or donate a rib to be in with a chance to win!

Play slots or on the tables to be in line to win. There are great prizes to be won in the rewards draws, for each cardholder level. There are also great cash prizes as seen on the website. You may even get the chance to drive away in one of SIX Opel Adams. Eve would be absolutely green with envy…

The first car draw is on 28 April, and the cars will be given away on each Saturday from then until 2 June 2018.

At the media launch of this fabulous promotion last week there was much singing and dancing to celebrate this great prize giveaway. To the tune of Justin Timberlake’s “Sunshine in my Pocket” people belted out “Six Opel Adams in my pocket, and we’re at Silverstar. We’re In It To Win It because we want to win this car…”

So, come down to Silverstar for YOUR chance to drive away in a sporty Opel Adam. Car draws are at 20h00 on Saturdays, and you won’t want to miss the excitement of being In It To Win It. Who will be the lucky one to win the first car? Will it be the red car or the white car, or maybe the black car that has YOUR name on it? Six weeks of excitement, six chances to win a brand-new Opel Adam.

Be tempted into spending some time at your favourite slot machine… Try your luck at Blackjack, Poker or Roulette… Whatever it is that revs your motor, so long as you are a rewards cardholder, and you’re playing on the slots or at one of the tables, get ready for your chance to win an awesome Opel Adam in the Silverstar IN IT TO WIN IT promotion.

During the promotion, an amazing R1.6 million in total will be given away in cash and prizes!

What better way to drive away the oncoming winter chill?

Soulstice Day Spa Joburg – An experience that ended with a sour note.

Photo from Spa’s own website313ec95c-bafb-4f0b-9989-3c9e16b72147

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Soulstice Day Spa in Johannesburg with my best friend and partner. He had been given a lovely voucher for three treatments for a couple, and we were looking forward to this experience with much excitement.

When I made the reservation, I was impressed by the friendly attitude on the phone, the process was smooth and I felt very satisfied. The only hiccup was when I was told that although the voucher was valid until 31 December, there had been a price increase and I would be expected to pay the difference for the treatments on the day. The website does say that prices and information are subject to revision without prior notice, but vouchers are paid for before price increases surely? But it wasn’t a fortune so I agreed and noted the charge.

The Spa is located in the Silverstar Casino Resort which is easy enough to get to, but finding the spa itself took quite a few questions and assistance from Casino staff. Luckily we had been asked to arrive 15-30 minutes before our appointed time, so we had extra time to spare to locate the Spa. Once we had arrived, we were greeted cordially and the programme for our treatments was described to us, before we went off to the change-rooms to get into our bathing suits and gowns.

We had some time in the relaxation area to wait before our first treatment. There was filter coffee, water and iced tea available as well as rusks, apples and some slightly overripe tangerines. There was a drinks menu and a food menu that had no prices on it, but at no stage during the day did anyone ask either of us if we wanted to order anything. That wasn’t really a big deal, but it would have been nice to have been asked. The website mentions relaxing with a fruit juice or cappuccino in between treatments after all, which is perhaps a bit misleading. Other places give these to you complimentary as part of the experience. We then had to fill in comprehensive questionnaires as happens in all spas, before we went for our first treatment.

Our first treatment was 45 min of Floatation Therapy. Here we entered a small chamber with a shallow pool heated to body temperature. High salt quantities in the water assist with the floating and relaxation of the muscles, whilst helping to relieve tension. Apparently one session of this therapy equates to 4 hours undisturbed sleep. Well my body did not get that memo. There are jets in the water to keep the water circulating, but if I tried to float my body immediately tried to roll me over which became rather uncomfortable and disconcerting after a couple of times. If I experimented by lying face down, I was rolled onto my back, and then around again, which was quite bizarre. Small “pool noodles” are provided to help you float if necessary, which did help a bit. We had been told that the salt was Magnesium sulphate, but this did not account for the at times peculiar smell in the chamber, both of us commented on it – there was a faint smell of urine which was not at all pleasant. Add to this the constant low rumble of the pump for the jets… On reading the brochure beforehand, we had been led to expect underwater music to help the relaxation, as well as candlelight to soothe, but there was only the light behind the Amethyst geodes, not a candle in sight, and certainly no music. Both of us decided it was not an experience we would hurry to repeat. Neither of us found it to be relaxing, not with the odd smell and the noise.

After a short “cooling down” period, where we sat in the relaxation area, we were taken to the Rasul Chamber for the 45 min Middle Eastern Mud Ritual. This starts with a sugar body scrub to exfoliate, and is then followed by the application of scented mud, which helps draw out impurities. After applying the scrub, we rinsed ourselves with warm water from hand sprayers before applying the mud. Both the sugar scrub and the mud are very pleasantly scented, and the experience in the darkened chamber, covered in scented mud, with heated steam to further draw out impurities was an amazing one to say the least. The chamber gets very hot and steamy and then all of a sudden there is a downpour of “tropical rain” to wash away what is left of the mud after you have sweated the majority of it off during the time inside. If necessary, there is a shower to complete the process, but both of us found the “rain” has done the job of washing the mud off sufficiently. Now this was a very special experience, and we would do that again without a doubt. Although the website brochure offers chocolate balls and sparkling wine to go with this treatment, these were not on offer, but perhaps the voucher we had been given did not include these treats.

Once we left the Rasul Chamber, we were met by our therapists who were going to do our last treatment, which was the 1 hour, full body Hot Stone Massage. Once inside the massage room we were offered an upgrade of our treatment to include the Luxurious Candle Massage, which uses wax from scented candles to further heat and invigorate the body. We decided to go for this to make the most of our last treatment. We were offered a choice of the Spa music, easy listening or nature sounds. We elected to listen to the nature sounds but after the massage had begun, it was apparent that this soundtrack was not working, so we reverted to the Spa music. This was possibly the best choice in hindsight, because inside the room you could still hear the Spa music from the relaxation area. The massage itself was enjoyed by both of us. As we both suffer from tension, there were many knots and sore muscles that needed attention, and as is often the case after a massage, we did experience some pain post treatment.

A small problem I had during the treatment though was when a hot stone was applied to the sole of my left foot. The right one has already been treated and that had been fine, but on the left the stone actually burned my foot and I jerked back which kind of ruined the relaxation I had been experiencing up to then. My foot was still sore by the evening, so I hadn’t been imagining it. That was rather unfortunate. I did also wonder if the therapists really paid much attention to the questionnaires we had filled in. The treatment ended with the therapists bringing us a glass of water and showing us some products that they recommended for the stiff muscles.

Thus ended our treatments and it was off to the showers. I was disappointed to see that in the showers there were bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but both were empty and I really wished I could wash my hair after the heat and oils of the treatments. Nor was there any soap of any description so I could not really rinse my skin. My partner reported that the men’s shower has a bottle of body wash but that this too had been empty. I had not brought toiletries from home as being a Spa I had anticipated that these things would be provided. A nice touch was the hairdryer by the mirror though, as well as deodorant and earbuds in both change rooms.

Then it was off to check out. Here our enjoyment of the day was hit with cold water by the distinctly cool reception we got when we arrived back at the reception area. The floor manager who had been so nice to us to start with seemed like a completely different person. Gone was the smiling face and friendly nature. I could not believe the change in attitude, it was as if we had done something wrong and I glanced up to see my partner also with a puzzled expression on his face as we were met with this attitude. She was looking at her calculator and saying that our voucher was only for so much and even with the discounted rate they had given the voucher provider we would still need to pay in. I knew this from the previous phone conversation when I made the booking, so why the aggressive attitude towards us now? She went on to say that she saw we had upgraded our massage and there was an extra charge for that. Again, we had agreed to that at the beginning of the treatment and I was in no way disputing the extra charge! Next we were told the therapists had left products for us at the reception, the ones they had been recommending for us, but as these are both quite expensive and not in our budget at this time, I did say that we would not be taking the products. As you might imagine by now, this was also met with a dim reception. Sorry, but I cannot be expected to suddenly fork out for over R1300 worth of products when I have other far more important things to pay for right now.

The other two ladies on reception had been sitting in silence all this time and I wondered what they were thinking. I felt like we were being treated very badly and am still wondering why. Then I asked for the candles that were from our Hot Wax massage, as the therapists had said we would take these home with us – at first I got blank looks, then one of the other people on reception got up to hunt for these and I was eventually handed a small package. In the mean time I had paid the extra charges, as well as gratuities for the staff. I had been thinking of purchasing a treatment voucher for family members for Christmas but I decided I would think about that rather, as I did not want to put them through the same experience we had just gone through.

When we left and we said goodbye, there was no brochure offered and only a murmured response to our greeting. Even though I had turned down the products from the day, perhaps I would have bought them later on or even a different product as a treat for a friend or family member. I have worked in the hospitality and service industry myself, and I would never have let any of my guests leave with such a sour taste in their mouth, and I objected to us being treated with such poor grace. After all, you never know these days who knows who, or even who they are. Your reputation can make or break you, and as the mission of the Spa is to deliver “an extraordinary experience in Spa wellness”, I have to say they did live up to their mission. They left us with an extraordinary experience all right, but not one we would care to repeat.

ELVIS is alive and well…and living in the African Bush!

Working at a game lodge you get to see so many varied and exciting things that you could be forgiven for almost becoming blasé… I say almost, because each sighting has its own special value and creates memories that will last long after the dust from the bush has been shaken from your walking boots. Field guides and game rangers all have many colourful stories to tell you, about things that happened to themselves or to their guests. For me, one of the highlights of my work in the bush was meeting Elvis.

One of the first times I ever saw him, he streaked through the outside dining area. That was a sight to behold! Obviously he had not been expecting there to be people sitting at the small tables round the fireplace, enjoying some traditional African Braaivleis or barbeque, but there were a few of us, so he had quite an audience…  Anyway, first we heard some heavy breathing, followed by a rustling sound, and then Elvis stuck his head around the reed fence. The guest closest to the fence let out a shriek and pushed back her chair, startling Elvis who had just decided to enter the area. So Elvis ran…straight past the fireplace, giving us a perfect view in the firelight, and into the dining room, where we heard him banging into a table before he fled into the night.

There followed a startled silence. After a few seconds, a shaky voice asked “Who was THAT?” Now I had seen the funky hairstyle in the light of the fire, so with a huge smile I replied “That, ladies and gentlemen, was Elvis.”

There followed more questions, a few of them being: Does he come here often? Is he dangerous? Why did he run away? And my favourite…Does he always smell so bad? (The answers being: yes; not really, unless you startle him; he wasn’t expecting visitors; and yes, I’m afraid so, as he never baths.)

After that encounter, I knew this group of guests would go back home and tell their probably disbelieving families and friends about meeting Elvis in the African bush.

Well, Elvis became a regular visitor. After his initial fright of finding people sitting in the semi-darkness around the fire, he soon settled down. Almost every evening he’d either appear at the Bar in the lounge before dinner, hoping to scrounge a few peanuts, or he would arrive sometime during dinner. We’d hear him panting his way along the path to the dining room, and one of us would then announce “Elvis is coming, so please just sit quietly and don’t make any sudden movements if he comes past your table.” Now if those particular guests at dinner had not yet encountered Elvis, you’d get some very funny looks following that announcement. But the raised eyebrows and funny looks would melt into looks of disbelief and awe as Elvis finally stomped into the room and began his tour of the tables.

He inspected each table in turn and he particularly fancied ladies’ handbags that were hung on the back of the dining room chairs…he had once discovered an apple in a bag, and having fished it out with surprising speed, had sped off into the night with his prize. So he was ever hopeful of finding another treat, and the bag inspection became a regular habit. The guests would take some photos, which bored him, as he had been photographed so many times before, so then if no bread (his particular favourite) was forthcoming, he would wander off to the kitchen to go and harass the staff. He usually just loitered on the step outside, causing the waitresses to have to step over or around him as they carried plates back and forth. Eventually one of the kitchen staff would come over to me and plant some leftover bread on the table, as if to say “Get him out of our way!!” But all the staff tolerated him, and even secretly liked him.

Anyway, Elvis was a great hit with all of our guests. Never outstaying his welcome, he would gently take the bread out of my hand, piece by piece; chewing slowly and thoroughly like his mamma probably taught him. Once he saw that it was nearly finished, he would look at me as if to ask was I sure there wasn’t any more hiding somewhere? I would show him my empty hands to indicate that we were done. So, with the last piece in his mouth he would head towards the dining room entrance. With toss of his head with its stylishly messy hair, he would glance back at the guests as if to bid them a good evening, and head off to patrol the garden and surrounds.

So nice to meet a Porcupine with manners!I'll never forget this hairstyle

“Do Rhinos make their huts out of Thatching Grass?”

Black Rhino in Boma 2

The eight pairs of eyes regarding me widened noticeably as I began my usual briefing: “You must remember you are riding in an area with potentially dangerous game…”  Rocky, my trusty lead horse stamped his foot hard to emphasise the point. Patting him, I continued running through the situations we might encounter on our horse safari, describing the hand signals we used, as well as some vital points to remember  – like never let go of your reins entirely, do not take photos unless told it is safe to do so, and so on. All of our safari groups got the same talk before heading off on their first ride into the game reserve, and this group, like most groups before them, nodded and said yes each time I asked if they understood  everything I was saying.  Having finished the formalities, we duly headed off on our ride.

After two days riding out from our home base, we headed off on our “Wilderness Safari” which was six days of riding and five nights at various camps on the reserve.  I had a mixed bunch with me this time, multi-national…German, American, English, Italian…so we had some wonderful animated conversations around the dinner table at night, and invariably the conversation would turn to the potential sighting of the elusive Black Rhino. So far we had seen White Rhino, as well as a wide selection of the animals the reserve was home to, but the Black Rhino was considered the “Big” sighting. I reminded everyone that these animals are very secretive, and that although the area we were entering the following day did offer chances of a sighting, they were not to get their hopes up.

The conversation continued over breakfast, and so with high spirits we set off the following morning, crossing open plains and weaving our way through small patches of woodland, seeing kudu, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and other plains game. All eyes were scanning left and right looking for whatever there was to see. As we were entering another small wooded area, a small snort and the snap of a twig just ahead of us alerted me to the fact that something was there. As Rocky and I watched, a Black Rhino broke cover a small distance ahead and to the right of us.  I turned back to my guests with a smile, pointed to the hastily departing grey backside and said “Well, there goes your Black Rhino”. We watched as the rhino ran east as fast as possible. One of my German guests, Thorsten, was an avid photographer, and he was quite disappointed not to have got a picture of the rhino, but I told him we were very lucky to have seen it at all.

We continued north, through the woodland, with Rocky now on high alert. He was fully aware of the fact that it was a Black Rhino that had been nearby, and that he, as lead horse, was most likely to be in the most dangerous position should we have been charged by the rhino. In such a scenario, the command was to “GO BACK”, which meant turning your horse sharply (if they hadn’t already done so themselves) and galloping away for a short distance to get space between you and whatever was charging, thus putting the lead horse most at risk from a horn up the behind. Rocky, as a seasoned safari veteran, had so far escaped this indignity but was constantly aware of the possibility.

About fifteen minutes later, having crossed another open area, we entered a stand of small trees. Something made me look ahead  to the right, at the same second as Rocky turned and pricked his ears into what I call “spotlight position”…meaning there is something of intense interest to look at. There, standing not 30 metres from us, was the black rhino. He had circled ahead of us and waited for us, where usually after getting a fright they run and put distance between themselves and whatever it was that scared them. The small trees obscured my view of his face. I could see his ears which were pointed at us, and his legs, but I could not see his expression or read his intention. Having already putting my hand up to halt the group, I quietly made a circling motion with my hand to signify that everyone should turn around and walk away as quickly as possible. I still had my eyes glued to what I could see of the rhino, until a small click behind me made me turn my head sharply, only to see Thorsten, camera in hand, readying himself to take another photo. Not only that, he had dropped his reins onto his horse’s neck, and was standing in his stirrups trying to aim his zoom-lens over the trees. In horror I tried to motion to him to grab his reins and put his camera down, when a loud snort drew my attention back to the still motionless rhino. In a split second, the rhino shook his head, gave  a few more loud snorts, dropped his head…and charged!

I shouted “GO BACK!!” As Rocky spun on his heels, I saw Thorsten nearly lose his balance as his horse obediently obeyed my command. Luckily he stayed on as his mare turned sharply and broke into a gallop. The rest of the group was heading smartly into the open area when I shouted again for them to “STOP”. Having seen that Thorsten was out of immediate danger, I had turned back to the rhino only to see that he too had obeyed my command! He had broken into a run to come at us, but my yelled “GO BACK” had startled him and he twirled round as gracefully as a ballet dancer and ran back the way he had come.  Thankfully, that was the last we saw of him on that safari.

Now the adrenaline was high, in both riders and horses, so as we continued, Rocky started to spook and shy at shadows, rocks and whatever else caught his fancy. He was really making a big deal of it, my brave lead horse with a sense of humour! Reaching the edge of a long sloping plain, I could feel him looking ahead to where there was a big pile of Thatching Grass lying next to the road. The reserve allowed people from the area to cut this long grass in the reserve to sell, as it is inedible and poses a fire risk if left uncut. The cutters were off further in the bush and had left the grass pile ready for collection. All the way down the plain, Rocky was goggling at the pile, making me urge him on as he pretended to be terrified. As we got closer, he suddenly shied violently to the left. George, who was riding behind me, laughed and asked what that was all about. I laughed too and replied “ Rocky thinks the pile of Thatching Grass is a rhino!”

There was dead silence from the back of the ride. Next moment, a curious American voice piped up, “Do Rhinos make their huts out of Thatching Grass?”

True Story!

The Show Begins at 5…

the boys

Set at Hongonyi Game Lodge

We came across the cheetah boys (Pakisha & Gijima) on an afternoon drive (27/2) – they were lying in a small clearing among some thorn trees, relaxing with VERY full stomachs after having stuffed themselves eating the Impala ram they had brought down. Lying like typical cats, they hardly even raised their heads to look at us as we pulled up near to them.

(Am thinking of changing their names to Fifa & World Cup – with full stomachs like that, they look as if they have swallowed footballs!)

We enjoyed observing them doing nothing for a while, and were about to move off when a black-backed jackal appeared on the edge of the scene. Gijima saw him, and flattened his ears, looking at the jackal with a fierce scowl. The jackal wisely ignored the cat, and lay down under a nearby thorn tree.

After a short interval, the jackal got a bit braver, and edged closer to the carcass. Gijima was lying between the jackal and the leftovers, so he again raised his head, and gave a low growl, with his ears plastered flat on his head.

Once again, the jackal lay down.

On the jackal’s third attempt to sneak closer, Gijima suddenly leapt to his feet and ran towards the jackal, snarling and spitting, and throwing sand with a batting motion of his front paws. Once the dust had settled, we could see the jackal back in position under the thorn tree, and Gijima had again taken up his prone position by the Impala carcass. While all this was happening, Pakisha only lifted his head once to see what the commotion was, otherwise all he did was contemplate the inside of his eyelids!

A few minutes later, Gijima had to repeat the chasing business all over again – this time making sure to send a bit more sand in the jackal’s direction.

Now, with the jackal hovering in the wings, the two boys decided to have a bit more to eat. Pakisha got up and started gnawing on some ribs, while Gijima stationed himself on guard, keeping a very watchful eye on the jackal. The jackal moved a little closer, so Gijima went into a threatening crouch, and started making a pawing motion with the front leg closest to the carcass. If the jackal retreated, the pawing stopped, if it came forward the pawing increased in tempo, accompanied by a very low growling. So it went on for a while, until the jackal “got bored” and moved off.

Gijima then settled to have a nibble on the meat. All was peaceful for a few minutes, silent apart from the satisfied crunching and chewing.

Then we saw that the jackal had approached from a different angle – this time closer to Pakisha, who immediately sent him packing with a short sprint in his direction. As soon as the cheetah lay down ,the jackal came back, having seen a small chunk of meat lying separate from the carcass, but quite close to Gijima. Once again Pakisha sent him on his way with a swift run in his direction, and a swat of the paw for good measure ( the closest you see to animal sign language – a good couple of swear words thrown in the jackal’s general direction!)

Pakisha lay down, the jackal moved closer. Gijima swore at the jackal this time, then resumed eating. Like lightning, the jackal bolted in and grabbed the chunk of meat, flying off to the thorn-bush as soon as the prize was in his jaws. Both cats hurled some insults in his direction, but the jackal was unfazed.

As the cats remained focused on the carcass, the jackal tried coming in from around a different bush. No luck! Next he moved a bit to the other side, still no joy. By now he was making a grunting sound that any self-respecting Warthog would have been proud of! The cheetahs were not impressed. They both told him in no uncertain terms to “get lost!*” (* Words have been changed to protect sensitive readers!)

The jackal now nipped around to the other side, under an overhanging branch that afforded him a little more protection. He now tried a completely different strategy. He tried asking the cheetahs to share with him. He begged. He pleaded. He bowed. He yipped. He moaned. He grunted. He twirled in circles.

He danced a jig. He hopped from foot to foot. He moaned and grunted and twirled and danced. And what did the cheetahs do? Absolutely nothing! They had their own private dinner & cabaret show and they didn’t even watch!

Poor jackal. Tonight’s audience was very hard to please. Not even a scrap of applause., or even a morsel thrown in his direction. (We were enjoying ourselves immensely of course, watching the show that had been provided for us!)

When we eventually left, in search of the rhino this time, the jackal was lying patiently under the original thorn-bush, pretending that he didn’t have a care in the world, and all the time of the ages to wait his turn. Clever Jackal. He did eventually get his share, and was last seen carting a leg-of-ram off home for dinner.

Giraffe Games


Set at Hongonyi Game Lodge…

On Saturday morning we were expecting guests from Joburg who were flying up for the weekend. The pilot had given me their ETA, and sure enough, right on schedule, I could hear the plane approaching. As is the normal thing to do, the pilot circled overhead, to adjust his approach. I was standing outside reception at the time, so I just watched out of interest to see exactly what plane was going to land. (Piper Cherokee). Then the pilot circled again… and again… and yet again. By now I was starting to think that there must be a problem with the airstrip or something. (We had prepared it well ahead of time, and had checked it again that morning).

Unbeknown to me, when student ranger Quinten had gone up to wait at the strip for the guests to arrive, he had found some of our giraffe standing exactly in the middle of the runway – and had herded them off with the vehicle, only to have them return as soon as he had parked out of the way. So he chased them off again, and waited to see where they went. They seemed to get the idea this time, moseying off into the bush, so he proceeded down the strip to the designated ‘plane parking area’.

By now the plane was approaching, so Quinten settled back to watch the landing, only to be puzzled when the Piper came in low for approach, then aborted landing and went up to circle again. The plane circled overhead, before swinging round again for the second attempt – and repeated the previous maneuver.

With this, Quinten drove down from the parking area onto the strip and found, much to his consternation, that the giraffe were back in the middle of the strip, but this time there were more of them! They had obviously copped on to the fact that there was something good about to happen, so they had rounded up the troops to come and watch. Front row seats, what more could one ask for?

So off sped Quinten, to herd the giraffe away, yet again. They actually weren’t very impressed with his efforts – they were much more interested in watching the aircraft – and only after “a heated discussion” did they dain to move to the side of the strip.

It must be added here that, due to the relatively close location of the Hoedspruit Airforce Base, the giraffe are old hands at aircraft noises – the guys don’t fly all that often, but I have had occasion to watch 3 fighter jets flying in formation almost directly over the Giraffes’ heads.(Who didn’t even bat an elegant eyelash!)

Anyway, the pilot saw the gap, quickly circling tightly and putting the plane down under the impressed giraffes’ noses. After preparing the plane for the night, with thorn branches around the tyres, and the relevant procedures followed, the guests set off for the lodge with a slightly frazzled Quinten. Poor chap hasn’t experienced enough of the bush yet to know that this is VERY normal behaviour from giraffe. Arriving aircraft seem to have a magnetic attraction for them! They always seem to know exactly when we are expecting a plane, moving down to the strip in good time to watch the arrival. Perhaps they were pilots in a previous life, and come to watch and assess the abilities of the pilots coming in. Funnily enough, they are not at all interested in departing aircraft, and barely even bother to put in an appearance for the take-off.

I did notice, when approaching the area on our evening game drive, that a big old bull was appraising the aircraft most carefully. So impressed was he that he went and fetched a few youngsters to come and see the Cherokee. They all stood at a respectful distance, barely even glancing at us as we passed, seeming to admire the aircraft, before ambling back to their mothers.

It crossed my mind that I had perhaps just witnessed the imparting of some ancient giraffe wisdom – “Remember this sight children, for this is a mighty bird, which must be watched carefully at all costs – it roars like a lion, but passes overhead with the rush of a strong wind. It does not follow the laws of nature, humans are not afraid of it, even though it spits them out only to swallow them again later on – so mark it well, and if you see or hear one approaching, at least one of you must quickly come down to the long open area, and stand openly facing the bird, to show that All Giraffe are not afraid, for it only seems to threaten fiercely from above, but does not attack after it has come to rest. Remember this lesson, and all will be well…”

Well, at least, that what I think he told them!

(With tongue firmly in cheek, and thanks to Dave & Charmaine for inspiring this story!)

Survival of the (frog) fittest….

Location: Hongonyi Game Lodge, February 2010, 10am

Sometimes it’s hard to know who to root for in the survival game… I know every creature needs to eat, but when it’s one of your ‘friends’ that’s going down, what do you do? This particular incident happened right outside the reception about 10 days ago.

This competition involved a Spotted Bush Snake and a Foam Nest Frog:

The frog (who lives in the ladies room), was going to refresh himself in the bird-bath as is his daily routine. The snake was hovering in the tree above the bath and silently slipped down and grabbed the frog on the thigh. They fell to the ground, where the snake quickly adjusted its hold to the frog’s head and throat.
The frog immediately inflated himself to epic proportions – imagine a tennis ball with legs – and there they lay, grappling on the path while I held my breath, interested to see what would happen, but at the same time sorry for the frog whom I have grown very accustomed to.

The snake tried various readjustments on his hold, and the frog endured several manoeuvres that would have earned the snake big points in a WWF competition… and so it continued for quite a while.

Suddenly the snake let go, and rushed up the tree, where it sat for the next few minutes, obviously trying to re-locate its jaw. The frog lay upside down on the path, apparently dying, while the snake watched from its lofty perch.
Next, the snake descended again, and took one last experimental nibble at the now deflating and blackened frog, and just as I thought it was all over, the snake deserted the scene of the crime, retiring now to the palm tree, where it again sat adjusting its jaw.

To my surprise (and delight), the bloodied and discoloured frog promptly rolled over onto his belly, then turned and hopped a bit groggily over to the wall where he proceeded to climb up the wall and onto the luggage trolley where he sat for the next hour… while I kept an eye on him, really expecting him to conk out at any moment. Slowly the frog changed from mottled black and dark grey to his normal pale whitish grey, until there was almost no sign of any trauma, apart from some tiny blood spots on his thigh and neck.

During the course of the day, the snake vanished, and the frog slowly made his way back to his favourite perch under the sink in the ladies’ bathroom.
As I finish writing this, so many days later, he is chirping happily from a new position – this time inside the loo roll – proclaiming his victory to all who would listen!

Hello world!

This is the beginning of the stories that most people will find unbelievable, or far-fetched…unless they themselves have ever lived or worked in the African bush! Sometimes sad, sometimes crazy, often funny, but all true! These will be stories for anyone to enjoy, even if the closest you’ve ever come to a safari is watching Animal Planet or National Geographic on television.

Fasten your seatbelt, enjoy the ride with me down memory lane, ask questions, but remember…watch out for the claws and teeth, the dust and fur: this could get very real!