This is my second shot as the first one got lost – teach me to write essays!
Visiting KNP in the late 60’s, early 70’s, as a teenage girl, from about 14 to about 19 years old, with my sister Lizanne, two years older, and my divorced Mother, gave me some pretty unique experiences.
We had been going to Kruger all our lives and our entertainment consisted of playing card games, listening to my mother’s tales about her time as a locum in South-West Africa and begging her for the next episode in the incredible stories that always seemed to be stopped, just when you had to know what happened next. But that changed as we grew up.
At that time, no single women were employed in KNP, and there were many, many young men working on the construction of the NEW tar roads and working in the park.
We sometimes felt they must be radioing ahead (no phones in those days) to our next camp as we often had barely closed the hut door when some young man was knocking on the door.
‘Tannie, can your two dogters come to the braai/pool/party tonight please?’
My Mother would put on here sternest face, ask about chaperones, issue instructions on curfews and drinking and when they seemed sufficiently intimidated would give permission.
Lizanne and I were invariably killing ourselves laughing behind the door, as my mother worked full time and we had been going on holiday alone to our Dad for years without this amount of supervision.
My Mom knew what she was doing, though, and we were treated like Queens by these young men.
As you can imagine, the competition to have some young thing hanging on your every word brought out the best and the most gory Kruger stories, so how much is true is anyone’s guess.
I will definitely be contributing to camp fire stories!!
But this one is true, so here it stays.
My most memorable evening was spent at the Skukuza staff pool in the company of a young man named Les.
The only guest pool at the time was at P’kop, so an invite to the staff pool was pounced on and he was quite a dish and at least 20, so my little heart was fluttering.
The evening started with a sighting of a hyena – my first night drive animal – and after the swim he spent hours telling us stories.
He had just finished a story about one evening when they switched on the lights in the Skukuza staff village club-house to change the movie reel and noticed there was a pride of lions sitting at the glass windows watching the movie with them, when REAL lions starting roaring.
It was pretty scary, but after all the pool was fenced in much better than the camp fencing, with a good strong game gate!
‘Ok folks, time to go.’ came Les’s voice. ‘Aren’t we safe here?’ from me. ‘Oh, no, the lions drink here regularly, they just jump the game gate, and they’ll probably be here in about 30 minutes.’
I clutched Les’s hand very tightly on the long walk back in the pitch dark to the cars parked in the CLUB-HOUSE parking lot!!
Lizanne was much braver than me and asked if we could go looking for the lions, so we drove to the golf course!
I wanted no such thing, seeing a lion in day-light is one thing, but at night!!
Thank goodness we didn’t see any!! (Yes, I am a wimp, but I could tell you lion stories that would make your hair stand on end!!)
The next morning, my mother said, ‘Rose, what were you dreaming about, you kept calling “Les, Les, help me, ….etc, etc” Oy!!
Every holiday to KNP thereafter, I was teased mercilessly.
(Les, if you’re reading this, know I remember you fondly to this day!)
Anyway, I don’t know whether you are bored to tears to this, but if you want more, let me know – I seem to recall Les telling us something about a leopard…. (I have my Mother’s example to follow after all)