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Published: July 31st 2015
At the Elephant Sanctuary
We all had a great time there and we think the Elephants did as well.
Tonight it really is a blue moon here. Ian our host is an amateur astronomer and he explained it. The expression is doubly appropriate, however, as today we have had a very rare experience: we have all been kissed by an elephant! Olivia said on our return, 'Today has been the best day of my life!' She was lucky as she was kissed twice--Caspar the elephant seemed to take a shine to her. He was quite scary really. The moment when the elephants were first brought to us was one to remember. Getting so close to such large creatures was awe-inspiring. Of course, we all knew elephants were big, but when you stand underneath or alongside one, you experience their size yourself. We were able to touch their tongues, ears, wire-brush tails, softer feet and hard toenails, and they gave us a kiss which involved their snout covering our whole throat. Then we each took them for a walk, holding them by the trunk. This was, for me, the more scary bit as I was walking just in front of a long, sharp tusk, with a guide repeatedly telling us to keep marching--if I stopped it felt like that tusk might
He is even bigger than he looks here alongside a tall man.
just separate my head from my shoulders. These are creatures which routinely uproot trees big enough for a decent climb, as we saw in the Kruger yesterday. You don't argue with elephants, or their guides...
We were at the Elephant Sanctuary as a compensation for the last-minute news that the park had not reserved accommodation for us, despite taking our booking and fees months ago. In my opinion this was preferable to an extra day looking at elephants from a long distance. We shall never forget it.
Before that we had stopped at a coffee house recommended by our hostess Stephanie. Unfortunately, as it turned out, we had only allowed only forty minutes there. Plenty of time for a coffee, even for the light lunch which was all we felt we needed after a very filling breakfast here at Ekukhanyeni. Had we known how good the Sabie coffee house would be, we would have doubled that time. Not only was the coffee great (they grow it themselves, I think) and the food delicious, but the children also had a 'Jungle Jim' as it was called, and a pretty stream to explore (and for Tom, to get his feet
Robbie is kissed
Kito delivers a whopper to the jaw!
wet in) in the lovely, picturesque garden. They enjoyed all that, but then while we were eating the owner came out to meet and chat to us and in no time he was offering a free educational talk for our children on the story of coffee from bean to cup. Sadly, we had to leave to keep our booked slot at the sanctuary, so that was one offer we declined with regret.
We have been spoilt for food today, however, as this evening our hosts treated us to an amazing braai. We agreed that it put the typical British BBQ to shame, as we sat around the fire outside looking at the stars above the mountains around us, relishing the best steak any of us had tasted this year (and Josh, a connoisseur of such meat, should know) along with chicken, boerewors, pap, roast potatoes, mashed carrots, and a fulsome and varied salad--all followed by a deliciously creamy sweet pudding. Even the hollow-legged boys were well satisfied! During journal writing, Mrs Davis showed us a talent we never knew she possessed--as an artist. The sketch she drew of Angela is better than the ones you can get from the
sketch merchants along the Seine. This inspired Robert to get out his own sketchpad to draw first Mrs Davis, and then Angela. His work has a primitive energy and while Mrs Davis' work may seem more sophisticated and realistic, one suspects that before too long the term 'Thatcherite' will be an adjective applied to a certain style of drawing rather than a particular brand of right-wing politics.
The mood at evening meeting was mellow and cosy. Everyone is happy. You get days like this--well, just once in a blue moon.
It is a hard one to follow, and even harder to top, but we shall do our best tomorrow as we are going to see the most spectacular scenery in this part of Africa, amidst mountains rising over 7,000 feet (sorry, mountains just can't be metric for an oldie like me). We are also going to spend some money on souvenirs at a kind of craft fair at one of said mountain-viewing places, and round it off with a pancake in the pancake capital of South Africa, Graskop. Should be another day to remember.
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