The next morning it was cool. During the night some clouds had blown in from the east and together with the crispiness in the air brought strings of swirly mist with it.
Jeremy packed himself a picnic basket filled with fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, boiled eggs and cold meats, remembering at the last minute to fill Danny’s flask with strong coffee while slamming a breakfast together for the two of them.
Danny came from his room and gave a shiver.
”Strange cold we’re having, most unusual for this time of the year and after such heat yesterday. What’s this, man? I have a maid to do this, you know. Otherwise I cook or braai or do my own thing – but hey, it looks good! Thanks.”
He glanced at the toast, eggs, bacon and sausages while Jeremy was pulling a windbreaker over his T-shirt, still swallowing down a piece of toast with some coffee.
“I’m off to the Park. Sure you’re not in on the trip?”
Danny shook his head. “Go do your thing. No need to say enjoy it because you will anyhow.”
Jeremy left the house around eight o’ clock, leaving Danny standing at the gate with a huge grin on the face.
Directly after he had entered the Park at Phalaborwa Gate, the wisps of mist evaporating fast, Jeremy turned left onto the S131 gravel road (Shivhulani Road) to slowly drive the roundabout way to Letaba with the idea to go north from there on the main road, aiming to reach Makhadzi Picnic Spot for an early lunch. He had never been there before and had randomly picked the location from Danny’s Kruger map book the evening before.
Having had a fair share of outdoor living, he immediately started recognizing some of the birds he came across. A brown snake-eagle first caught his attention where it was feasting on a lizard on the branch of a dead acacia tree. After this he came across brown-hooded kingfisher, one or two varieties of weavers, francolins running across the road and many more.
Around the bend he turned east for a straight line towards Letaba, but two old bull elephants blocked the road and he had to sit a while for them to move off to the left into the veldt, lazily swaying their huge bodies and plucking branches off trees with their curling trunks, sticking the delicacies into their mouths and munching away without a care in the world.
He drove on, carefully looking around and absorbing into his thirsty mind and hungry soul everything and anything he could see, hear and smell in the crisp morning air.
On and on he drove, not seeing much in the line of animals, some giraffe and wildebeest and the ever present impalas and besides birds a lizard on a termite mound, but he could feel the tension in his body loosening up after the first couple of months of hard study and hard play, and heavenly relaxation and joy replaced the weariness. Eventually he reached Letaba, turned left to the parking area and went to the restaurant to buy some fresh juice for the rest of the road.
A scattering of people were sitting on the verandah, eating, chatting and paging through Kruger reference books, others were standing at the lookout scanning the half dry riverbed with binoculars.
At the counter of the take-away a pretty young girl was busy ordering some toasted sandwiches and Jeremy came to stand next to her.
“What would you recommend for easy nibbling on the road, cheri?” he asked casually.
She turned her head and glanced up at him with an amused glint in her hazel eyes. “Flagornerie, mon ami?”
He grinned. “Yes, I’m flirting with you, Lady! Are you here with someone, a friend perhaps?”
“With my parents. However, I’m not into this pick-up business. Have a nice trip – monsieur!” She took her packets and moved off to the till to go pay, not even looking back.
“Well, I never!” Jeremy mused, hugely entertained.
To be continued.