At 3:15, a SANParks bakkie with a trailer came round the bend. With a heart beating at about 1000 beats per second, I walked towards the rest of the group.
We introduced ourselves to one another and after loading the luggage in the trailer, we climbed onto the bakkie. Out by the gate, left towards the Administrative section and reality struck me like lightning. "I'm actually here, my dream has finally become a reality”.
Our first sighting, a herd of buffalo at the Nwatsulofa Pan quenching their thirst for the long night ahead.
A bit further a pair of mating lions
Looking back towards the Orpen-rocks provided this spectacular scene
A herd of elephants quietly grazing
We stopped at Leeupan. It felt rather strange to set foot in the wilderness but I reminded myself that it is actually legal.
We walked to the edge of the water and after scanning our surroundings for predators but seeing nothing, we noticed this Grey Heron
and this Black-headed Heron
We passed Tshokwane which by know has been closed for the day, and I got a different perspective of this normally busy picnic spot. It had a quiet tranquil magic about it.
A bit further, we turned to the right onto a dirt road (S32) and after a while where the road split, we took the road to the left. The road zigg-zagged through shoulder high grass and as we stopped, Phillip (Assistant Trails Ranger) got out of the bakkie and opened the gate.
From somewhere deep within me escaped an involuntary noise that sounded like something between a giggle and a sigh and thought “Well, let the party begin!”
My eyes quickly scanned the surroundings, and I definitely liked what a saw.
Ewout (Trails Ranger) stopped in front of a building constructed with wooden poles and a thatched roof and after switching off the engine turned around and said. “Welcome to Metsi Metsi. I hope your stay will be an unforgettable one and that you get what you were hoping for.”
We climbed down from the bakkie and a man with a crisp clean uniform and broad smile came walking through the kitchen door and the pleasant smell of food followed him as he walked towards us.
"Our skilled chef Ernesto and his kitchen where he will prepare all our delicious meals" Ewout introduced him.
The camp rules, wake-up and meal times as well as the daily schedule were explained. There are four huts with two beds in each, and because three people did not pitch, I got my own hut.
I chose the one in the furthest corner of the camp, grabbed my luggage and walked towards my "little house" for the next three nights.
The narrow footpaths are neatly laid out and finished off with stones on both sides. The sound of the coarse sand from under my feet echoed in my ears . . . . crunch . . . . crunch . . . .crunch.
I reached my hut "Ahhh this is sooooooo cute"
and the three steps into my hut made a squeaky sound under my feet. I lay down on the one bed and then on the other to determine from which one I will have the best view.
Mission accomplished, I put my luggage on the unused bed. I took off my watch and put it at the bottom of my bag. For the next few days, I will live by Mother Nature's heartbeat.
I quickly unpacked a few necessities and off I went, exploring.
Crunch . . . .crunch . . . . crunch, up to the two showers. The old fireplace used for making hot water, still visible in the middle
Behind the showers, the two toilets in which a Deitz lamp will be burning all night in case of use during the course of the night
Crunch . .. . crunch . . . . crunch, to the back of the kitchen
The tattered drum that announced many already forgotten meals
Crunch . . . . crunch . . . . crunch all the way to the lapa where we will enjoy our meals
Crunch . . . . crunch to the boma where I plan to spend a considerable amount of time around the fire
At 6 o’clock, the drum announced supper. A delicious meal awaited us.
We took this opportunity to get to know one another. I must admit I was amazed at the knowledge my fellow trailers from overseas had of South Africa. My heart swelled with pride as they often mentioned how they envy us our country's nature and beauty.
Each with a cup of coffee in hand, we moved the conversation to the boma. Around a cozy cracking fire, and systematically the peace and tranquility took over and each one was trapped in his own thoughts. I bent my neck backwards and watched as the stars appeared one by one. It looked like someone has pierced tiny wholes in the dark sky and from behind the light shines through.
Being small moon, I knew it would only later show its slitty eye. An indescribable peace came over me, knowing that tomorrow night the heavens will look the same, as our Creator has kept it for millions of years.
Earlier the afternoon whilst exploring the camp, I kept my word to gmlsmit and went looking for his wife Lanette's two Scops owls, but could not find them.
Now from out of the dark they started calling each other. With a slight breeze blowing, I whispered her message to them.
One-by-one the members of our party bid me a good night and went to bed. With the distant roar of the king of the bush, I put another piece of wood on the fire and stayed until it turned into white ashes.
Back at my hut I left the door wide open and lay down on my bed. After a while I fell asleep with the call of the Scopsies in my ears. Too soon, I was woken by the call of a Turtle Dove in a nearby tree. I got out of bed, saw that it was still pitch dark outside, and that everyone was still asleep. I soon came to the conclusion that the Turtle Dove must definitely suffer from a serious identity crisis, thinking that he is some sort of night bird.
Try as I want, sleep has now completely eluded me.
Coffee seemed to be a brilliant idea
and crunch . . . . crunch I took the longer road past the showers to the lapa as not to wake Kristina. Struck a match, lit the gas burner and waited patiently for the water to boil.
Crunch . . . . crunch . . . . crunch back to my hut.
I sat on the steps and scanned my immediate surroundings for any creepy crawlies
kicked off my shoes and burry my feet in the still lukewarm sand.
Whilst I sip my coffee
I involuntary wondered if life could in any way get better than this.
When the stars started disappearing one by one until only the morning star was left, my confused feathered friend suddenly kept quiet.
I crawled back into bed and drifted off to dreamland when Ernestos' voice woke me "Good morning, hot water to wash in”. I again rose from my bed
put some water in the wash-basin and as the sun slowly showed its face, I stood in front of my hut and brushed my teeth.