As promised the English version of the article that was published in the Afrikaans Magazine….Vrouekeur….Thanks to Tanya for translating it to publish it here on the blog! Think that today I have some time and really forgot to bring this to all of those who do not have access to the Mag…and those who do not understand or read Afrikaans!
This is the first page of what it looked like…
and page 2…I really am not doing justice to these pics from the magazine, but just trying to get you into the mood of reading it!
and here is the article as translated by Tanya!
To life your dream…
by TANYA DE VENTE – the article was first published in Vrouekeur magazine (4 January 2010)
Martie Goddard had a dream to stay in the Kruger National Park for a year… and now she is there…
“The Kudu kept on looking….then he continued eating…turning his back on the lion…and she moved forward…now in the reeds…I could not see her, but I could still see the Kudu….she turned again…facing towards the lion…but obviously she could not see it!
The next minute….it was lion and Kudu all mixed up….I tried to take some pictures…but on the other side of the river…I can tell you it felt great! I just clicked away and I hope these few pictures will tell you the story of what happened!
This all happened in a matter of minutes….then…we heard the last sounds of the Kudu…and the Lion had a meal!
Wow….it was great…I could not believe that I saw a kill! The rest of the day was spent in the swimming pool…and then a quick afternoon drive…but nothing we saw can compare to this morning!”
This was 45-year old Martie Goddard‘s blog entry on day 174 of her stay in the Kruger National Park (KNP). She calls it “Living my dream” days.
Life is too short not to live your dreams, she says. That’s why she decided to do what she always dreamt. She said goodbye to her “normal” and life to stay in the KNP for a year.
She has been there since May 2009 and plans to stay till end of March 2010. She travels in caravan from camp to camp.
Her blog has become very popular on Sanparks’ website with more than 100 000 hits a month. Every day she writes about her experiences and which animals she saw. People all over the world read the blog every night. She is surprised by the popularity of the blog, because for her it’s just a way to bring Kruger to the people.
Vrouekeur met her to chat to her about living her dream.
I met Martie at her stand at the Crocodile Bridge camp, where she was at the time of the interview. It is one of the smaller camps in the KNP. I look for Martie’s caravan between about ten others on the camping and find her and her husband, Stephen, where the sit under a tree.
Martie is tanned, her hair in a ponytail and she has a real bushveld hat on her head. Her husband is visiting her for two weeks and one can see they are enjoying the time together, especially after a few months apart.
It is a very hot day, about 40˚C in the shade. Stephen offers us an ice-cold drink and we started to chat.
Martie says it feels as if she arrived only yesterday although she has been there for months.
“I have met unbelievable people from all corners of the world.”
People read the blog of hear about the blog and then will come meet me. I have probably met about 2000 different people in the past few months.” On a Sunday there are sometimes about 20 people that will come greet her, talk or kuier with her at her caravan.
She laughs as she talks about the simplicity of her life in the KNP.
“Since I have been here I have not watched TV or listened to the radio. It’s all part of the experience. I also don’t put on make-up.”
Martie says in the mornings there are women at the ablution blocks blow-drying their hair, or putting on make-up, but she only wash her face and then she is ready for a new day.
She obviously has internet-access which she uses daily to update her blog and interact with readers.
She admits there are two things she misses, expept off course her husbands. She misses her own bathroom with her own shower. “I also miss my fully equipped kitchen although I love cooking on the fire. I have a fire every night; come rain, storms or hail.”
She shows me how she makes an oven to cook lamb, by using a normal carton with tinfoil around it.
“Every day on the blog I tell the readers what food I am making and I think this is another reason why the blog is so popular!”
To prepare food, the fire and write the blog is all part of her evening planning.
“To upload the entry to the blog can take anything from three tot seven hours, depending on how many photos I have and how quick my internet connection is. I make afire, drink a beer, chat with people, prepare food and blog.”
At every camp she usually dines at the restaurant on the last evening of her stay. She then tells the readers how she experienced the restaurant. She does her shopping in the nearby towns because there is not a wide variety of food in the shops at KNP and it is also cheaper outside Kruger.
“I have to live according to a budget although I am currently living under my budget!”
“Every day is different to me. I have been coming to the Kruger for 40 years, but only saw a kill now for the first time. The first time a leopard caught an impala, but it was so quick I couldn’t even take photos. The second time was when the Lion killed the Kudu. It was unbelievable!”
Life is short
Why did she want to stay in Kruger for a year?
“I grew up in the Lowveld and the KNP is in my blood. I was used to coming to Kruger very often.” Her dad used to take them to Kruger at least one Sunday a month. “After our wedding my husband and I came three to four times a year for a few days. Eleven years ago we moved to the middle-east and we only visited the Kruger once a year for a few days.
For Martie, this was not enough.
“One Friday I was on Sanparks’ forum and read about someone living in Kruger for 45 days. I though, what is 45 days? I want to do it for a year!”
When she told her husband he just replied: “ok, when?”
“I said to him when I am 50, and I don’t think he really took it serious. It was still a long time to go. I though 50 would be good time because then both my daughters’ would be finished with university and I would have had enough time to save…”
Her daughter Megan is a teacher for kids with special needs and Carmen is final year student in wildlife management. Both of them live in Cape Town.
But after a good friend of Martie died on 34 year, she decided she had too pursue her dream quicker than what she thought first. “Then friends of ours’ son died in a car accident. He was only 21. I said to Stephen I can’t wait. I have to do it as soon as possible, because you don’t know whether you are going to live until 50.”
“Stephen said to me: ’Oukei, Engel, do it as soon as you have enough money.’
I think I saved the money quicker than he thought I would.”
A house with challenges
Martie saved for about two years to live out her dream. She did two different works to save enough money.
“There was a lot of planning to do. I had to read up a lot on camping. We always used to stay in chalets or houses and I had too decide how I was going to this camping thing. I could not stay in a tent; I wanted my bed to sleep on and all my stuff with me.” She was also unsure whether she was suppose to get a caravan or camper and how look she should stay in every camp.
She submitted her questions on the forum and lots of people gave her advice. This is how she decided to buy a caravan and to start in the North of Kruger and travel down to the south, going back to the north again.
“I experience the KNP in different seasons… As I went along I made a list of things I was going to need and as I continued I mentioned them to Stephen.” At one stage he said to me if you ask one more think you are going to need another caravan to take everything with.”
He joined her for the first week of her stay to help her with the camping thing. He showed her stuff like how to level the caravan.
“But I think that specific camping was a very level stand, because it was not as easy alone in the other camps. It was probably one of the most difficult things I had to learn.”
Luckily very helpful campers cross her path and she is thankful about al the tips she got from people who helped her.
A suitcase full of memories
She laughs as she thinks back about everything she experienced so far. “At Pretoriuskop I struggled to unhook the caravan. Someone gave me a tip to lower the brake so that I have a bit more leverage.
It was wonderful advice but when I got to Berg and Dal-camp and tried to unhook the caravan I didn’t realise I am on a bit of a downhill stand.
“I lower the handbrake and the caravan jumped off the hook and took me for a run. I was blue and purple as I had to try and stop the caravan as it run down the hill. Finally I could grab the brake and pull it up.”
She shakes her head as she thinks about the time her sister in law come to visit. It was winter and very very cold as they did not have electricity.
Her sister in law decided they need to be Voortrekkers for the night and heat stones in the fire so that they can put them in the bed’s to heat up the beds.
Martie choose the biggest stone and wrapped it in one of her brand new towels, and put it inside her brand new expensive bed linen.
“We went outside again, but after a while something exploded in the caravan. I opened the door and smoke came out of the caravan! It wasn’t just a normal stone I put in my bed, but one with cement around it and the cement exploded due to the heat!
We grabbed the stone, threw it out and ran for our lives because the pieces of stone flew everywhere. I can’t believe we were so stupid,” she says laughing.
I enjoy the camping. “It is must different from staying in a chalet. Sometimes you don’t even know your neighbour, but when you camp people almost immediately begin to chat…”
She does not plan another adventure after this one. “I don’t think Stephen will allow me. It is easier because he travels a lot for his work and this will take our attention of the fact that we are apart, but at times it is very difficult.
I think I have changed in the time since I have been here. I am more emotional than before. I think I was a harder person. Now I have learned everyone has mistakes, even me. I think maybe I though I was perfect before this.
Her advice to women is to follow their hearts and live out their dreams. “Just do it. Yes, it does take a lot of planning and hard work. I think at first it was difficult for the family to accept this, but now they are proud of me.” Stephen nods to agree.
“I am really just living my dream, she says while look at him. It is magic to bring Kruger to the people every day…”