Elephant sands

The time had come to begin our descent back to Cape Town – but before we set off in proper, we had just one more stop to add to our trip, Elephant Sands.

We had never heard of Elephant Sands before, and hadn’t had any intention of adding an extra stop. However, Tom had befriended a fellow camper a week before, who raved of a place where hundreds of elephants roam freely among the tents. We couldn’t resist.

Arriving at Elephant Sands mid-afternoon and checking into our pre-erected tent, it wasn’t five minutes before two elephants came trundling over to the watering hole just meters from the restaurant.

We grabbed our cameras and beers, and sat literally 3-4 meters away from the giants drinking, washing, giving us the odd going over with their intelligent eyes.

It’s so fascinating to watch elephants, they have such distinct individual personalities. One of the elephants – not the biggest at all – was a total bully, and chased off anyone trying to drink from his little patch. We were entertained by the moody so-and-so trying to chase off the others, who resorted to staging distractions in order for the others to sneak behind bully’s back and get a sip or two before he noticed, and went charging after a new target.

Water is turned off after dark at Elephant Sands, because otherwise the elephants dig up and burst the water pipes, so we had to hurry back to our tent for a solar-heated shower before the sun went down.  Only, to do so involved a 5 minute jog across the elephants’ watering hole, and new arrivals were constantly pitching up to drink.

We didn’t get flattened, and soon we were back at the restaurant, in time for a few last pictures before darkness fell.

For whatever unknown reason, the owners of Elephant Sands decided it would be unlimited free wine for everyone for the night, uh-oh. We settled in for dinner with the other 10 or so people staying, and dug into the stew and maize-meal served up.

After dinner we all sat back out in the darkness, and watched the troop of elephants who had since arrived at the watering hole, bringing their babies too. We just sat up like that under the stars, with the elephants and free wine, way too late into the night.

Getting to bed involved yet another – slightly more exciting – race across the watering hole in the pitch darkness. “Well, good luck, hope you make it!” the jolly owner and other guests giggled, as we bolted off into the dark.


I’m in love with Kenya

The days seem to pass so quickly here, because I always have so much to do.  Once again, I have many adventures to fill you in on!On Sunday, I went to Nairobi National Park with friends… and went on my FIRST SAFARI.  And maaan was I lucky.  I saw all the animals that I could really wish to see, that live in this area- giraffes, zebras, a lion with 3 cubs, a black rhino, wildebeest, gazelles, buffalos… just everything you need to have a great safari.  It was breathtaking, and exciting and so awesome.  We were able to see the lions from about 3-4 metres away, as they had killed a zebra near the road, and were guarding it.  The guide told us they wont leave that place until they have eaten the whole zebra.  The rhino was huge, and like something from another planet.  The giraffes are incredibly tall… none of my photos do the animals justice.  And all set against a background of high-rise buildings in the distance (the park is on the outskirts of Nairobi city).

Yesterday was my day off from teaching, so Geraldine (the lady who I live with) took me to visit the Sheldrick foundation elephant orphanage.  My goodness, are baby elephants cute???  They all have terrible stories though- most of them lost their mothers through poaching.  They are all very cheeky and sweet though, and love their mudbaths…  They were throwing dust and mud around and at each other 🙂   Our “family” adopted a baby elephant, which means we can go and visit her in private on Friday evening… will be great.

The elephant orphanage is essentially in the bush – with no shade.  And of course yesterday the real African sun decided to come out for proper.  It was HOT… and more than heat, the sun burns here!  You can really feel the rays… its awesome.

Today I had another amusing day at school.  I taught my year 4 class, and decided to scrap the textbook today, and played games with them.  Boys against girls – spellings, vocab, charades.  They absolutely loved it.  The girls won (of course) by one point, and so I gave the boys the penalty of having to go out into the playground and do 10 press ups in front of everyone.  There was plenty of giggling.  The kids all loved it.  And at the end of the lesson, they taught me their daily Kiswahili phrase.  Today they taught me:  “Wewe ni mwalimu mzuri sana.”  (You’re a great teacher).  I swear I love those kids!!  And to make things even better:  I have a dyslexic student who no one else has paid any attention to – and I have already become the meddling teacher by giving him extra lessons and help.  He came upto me at the end of class, and told me, teacher, this lesson I got 7/15 spellings right in the test!!  (For the past 3 tests, he got 1/15).  He asked me, please will you help me more??  I wanted to cry… he’s such a sweet kid, and so hard working.

I’ll finish with an amusing image.  I had a free period today at school, and was sitting in the playground in the sun.  The head teacher, priest, and some teachers come out to join me.  The priest takes out his mobile phone (glittering purple), and puts on his playlist:  a strange mix of oldschool Backstreet boys, and sexual rap.  The teachers are all there, bobbing their heads along, laughing, chatting – questioning my teaching technique as “too active”… all of a sudden, up they hop:  “nearly end of class, better go back and check that the kids did their work”.  It turns out, they had given the kids work at the start of the lesson, then come outside to relax… and went back at the end of class to collect the work.  I do raise an eyebrow at the morale of teachers over here…  Anyway, no wonder like this I seem “too active”… 🙂

Lala salama!  (Sleep well!)