During the pandemic we have all been under restrictions and lock downs. Time has flown by at a rapid rate here at home, but still, it is illegal for us here in the UK to take a foreign holiday. Fourteen months since our first lock down and I, like many, am wondering when we will be able to travel and in particular to South Africa. I am in need of an adventure and to reconnect with the wild that I can only find on my travels. My wife Melanie also needs to get home and see her family. Holidays and adventures are second to family matters where age and health are catching up with us all.
During the lock down I have spent time thinking about past road trips. Wildlife encounters that have involved being charged by an elephant and spat at by a spitting cobra. Watching my father-in-law jump into crocodile infested waters to retrieve (borrowed) binoculars. Encounters with the police, where talking about the mighty Leeds United, have seen sent on my way with a smile. Going through old photographs as I have been typing up a few of those memories has given me great pleasure. I have smiled as I think back and very much enjoyed sharing a few of my experiences. Some must have been exceptionally funny as they made my proof-reader and editor in chief laugh out loud. Thank you, Melanie, for reading and as always correcting my terrible spelling and grammar.
There are more stories, experience and encounters that surface in my old brain every now and then that did not make it here in print. Standing on the Zulu War battlefield at Isandlwana was emotional and as a storm blew in it became a very eerie place to be. The tension was broken by a fellow guest as we stood there in silence. The tall, elderly, retired high ranking ex-naval man dressed in blazer, complete with military honours, and matching trousers stood opposite me. As the rainstorm approached, darkness descended, and the wind picked up. Without flinching or change in facial expression, he let out a huge bubbling fart that could be heard above the noise of the changing weather. Then there was the little man, that resembled Star Wars general Nien Nunb, that visited me in my tent on my very first wilderness experience. He sat on the bed, no taller than 50cms in height, and we chatted long into the night. I have two theories on this: It was either, the thought to be mythological ‘Tokoloshe’ feared by the Zulu people. The creature is a hairy dwarf mixed with zombie and goblin, capable of killing you in your sleep. This is unlikely as he woke me, and we chatted. Otherwise, it may have been a side effect from the first time I had taken malaria tablets?
Thank you all for reading my campfire tales and for the kind complimentary comments and messages that you have sent. I know that many of you have had similar experiences and that we all have memories created from travelling. Travel for me expands the mind and allows you to have a better understanding of the world. I have had the privilege of spending time in KwaZulu Natal and visiting so many places, too many to mention here. My memories sometimes overflow from my adventures. But one thing that shines brightly is the people I have met. People from all walks of life that have contributed to making my trips so memorable.
I very much hope it is not long before we can all start to travel and create new memories. Until the next time we can all sit around a campfire under a night sky lit up by the milky way and share a story, a beer, and a smile……Keep safe, well, planning and dreaming.