A loooooooong overdue blog from South Africa from May, 2010!!!
Well, I was not expecting to be able to go to Maria's wedding in SA because of such a big year ahead (read: expensive 4 month West Africa trip coming up coupled with buying a flat in London) ... but at the last minute I was able to go and was super, super happy I was able to!...
I’m always happy to go back to South Africa and especially so to go to Maria’s wedding!
The flight to Joburg turned out to be somewhat interesting when my plane had to do a sudden u-turn and an unexpected landing in Malta, after a wild sand storm sprung up near Tripoli, Libya where we were supposed to be transiting. After quite a few hours spent on the ground there, we were finally in the air again and headed on our way. Tripoli was one of the most bizarre airports I’ve visited, where no one appeared to wear uniforms and there were masses of people standing around so you couldn’t figure out who was officially supposed to be there and who was just loitering…compounded when the transiting customs officer took my passport, turned
it around and around as if he had never heard of this country called New Zealand, and then finally said ‘are you allowed to go to South Africa?’ Luckily he took my ‘yes!’ as satisfactory and waved me through…. Where constant people (again, no uniforms) would saunter up and ask to see my passport every 5 minutes. I swear none of them were legit and were just random people being nosy! Eventually two large African guys came up to me and said ‘stick between us and don’t stop’ and ushered me right to the flight, where there were three planes waiting and no signs or staff so we eventually found the right one. Mmmm can’t really recommend Tripoli as a transit stop…. Or Air Afriqiyah though they’ve since gone bankrupt (read our blog from Cameroon, Feb 2011) and the plane I flew into Joburg on then took off and crashed on its next flight, sadly killing everyone on board except one young boy.
Finally arriving tired but happy in SA, first stop was directly to the hair dressers! Then the next few days were spent doing last minute wedding errands around Joburg where Maria and I got to really
catch up driving all over the city, Maria got to fill me in on all the last minute drama’s and we were often to be found in complete hysterics (no surprises there!). Was so good to be back!!
The wedding venue was the stunning Leadwood Camp in the Timbavati Private Reserve. The road trip party consisted of Maria, her cousin Mike who had flown in from the USA, Andy and I and it was one of those drives where you laugh so much and so hard that your ab’s hurt for days after. We headed up a couple of days before hand to stay nearby at Ingwelala and basically prepare the venue for the wedding, game drive, drink Springboks around the Braai every night and watch out for the hyena’s drawn to our Braai. It was an awesome few days spent out in the Timbavati, one of those places you can see yourself just not leaving!
A wedding Braai was held the night before the wedding as guests had all travelled in, and on the way there we saw a leopard stroll right across the road in front of us which is AWESOME as leopards are always so
damn hard to spot! We heard there was another lurking right beside our venue for the braai but couldn’t find it, guess it was drawn to the smells of 70 odd South Africans cooking a truck load of meet over the biggest fire pit I’d ever seen, not a vegetable in sight ha ha. Now surprisingly, the last few mornings we’d taken the jeep out for game spotting, been silent and watchful, waiting to spot the big game and really hadn’t seen a whole lot of animals………and yet, headed back to Ingwelala after the wedding braai, all drunkenly talking as loud as ever – our noise carrying across the African plains – out steps several female lions right in front of our jeep. The stop was so sudden I flew off the back seat where I’d been lying watching the African night stars, to land with a crash on Andy who'd been lying watching the stars in the foot well. Our bruises were instantly forgotten though when we saw the lions; a really large pride of females with a handful of cubs all crossing right in front of us. It was rare to see such a large pride so close
– it really was amazing….and a little nerve wracking as we kept a careful eye out for the males who were clearly out there somewhere around us in the pitch black but keeping well hidden!
The wedding rehearsal was accompanied by elephants bathing in the river right beside, and the wedding itself was really stunning, complete with game rangers on duty to watch over us while we watched the couple exchange vows. Maria and Tyron’s wedding really was simply amazing out there in the Timbavati reserve, soooo special and so true to both of them, I felt so honoured to be there and a part of their day. The reception, held at Leadwood right on the edge of the river under a clear African sky and the sounds of all sorts of animals out there in the dark, was nothing but surreal. We had an awesome night dancing away, doing the Sokkie (I swear it’s just the same as Ceroc) and attempting the impossible task of drinking the bar empty.
Day after the wedding saw us packing up the whole venue and loading up the vehicles, which took a bit longer than expected so we missed the wedding
breakfast. Then it was a fast trip back to Joburg, with me in the buckie with Mike, our buckie heavily loaded down with equipment and leftover drink, but we still managed a respectable 160km/h while everyone else raced past us. I spent the next couple of days at Andy’s house as we both flew back to London on the same night. Was awesome to just chill in the sun and soak up the good weather! Then it was finally back to Joburg airport where I found out Air Afriqiyah was still not flying since the crash and I had to wait and find out how they would get me back to London, finally ending up on an Air Egypt flight.
Another amazing trip to South Africa – once again I couldn’t wait to go back!!
Thanks to Maria for the gorgeous wedding couple photos!
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