for writing that I was close to the Pacific coast when in fact I was many thousand miles away from the Pacific coast is the hours I have been keeping. We flew out on the Sunday night - an 11 hour flight - and although clearly some people around me have mastered the art of sleeping on a plane, I have not.
We got to the reserve, were greeted with a glass of champagne, and had lunch here.
(I am so subtle aren't I? Note my reluctance to say that where we were staying was the most luxurious, beautiful place on earth. I may not have exactly visited every other luxurious place on earth - but how could any where surpass where I went????)
After lunch we went on our first safari, and after that it was dinner, and bed....for four and a half hours as each day we had to get up at 4.30am, which to a British body clock was 3.30am.
Upon returning from the morning safari, and after having brunch in the forest, whilst most of the others were sensible enough to go and kip for the afternoon, the lure of a swimming pool and sunshine was far too great to allow me to follow their example, and I spent that afternoon in and out of this pool.
(I'm in that photo - let's just pretend I am the most gorgeous one there and leave it at that.)
High tea was served at 3.30, and at 4.00pm we went out on our evening safari, getting back just before 9, for dinner again. Whilst getting ready for dinner that evening however we had a visitor in our lodge which was not to prove conducive to a good night's sleep. My daughter suddenly screamed. Such a scream of horror can to me mean only one thing - huge spider - but in fact this scream, quite unusually, meant 'Bushbaby on side board!'
And very sweet it was too, but whether we wanted it in our lodge was somewhat open to debate. H was yelling to me to get it out, but as by then it was swinging around the roof rafters that seemed a case of easier said than done, and I had to resort to suggesting that as it had got itself in, it was most probable that by the time we returned from dinner, it would have taken itself out. As we left and shut our outside door, a second scream from H who had just put her hand on a dung beetle.
Now we did see lots of these fascinating creatures beavering away with assorted rhino and elephant dung, but weren't so enamoured that we would necessarily want to take one home as a pet. H was somewhat perturbed by her close encounter.
We went to dinner, and upon our return, H went to the bathroom (excellent - excuse to show photo of the bathroom!)
where upon she had cause to scream again...a bloody great big frog sat right next to the toilet. And if I tell you that our friendly bushbaby had not departed from our lodge, and that by this time H's nerves were shot to threads, you may appreciate that we did not spend much of the allotted four and a half hours remaining before we had to get up, actually managing to sleep. Up we got at 4.30 am.
Wednesday following an amazing thunderstorm the night before the weather had drastically changed, and when I got back from the morning safari I spent the afternoon walking with an armed ranger rather than sleeping. We were even later to bed that day because we had a Zulu night where locals came and gave us a fascinating taste of their culture, which has resulted in me developing a further obsession - the Anglo-Zulu War, and in particular The Battle of Isandlwana before which the Zulu's are said to have run 80 kilometres bare foot to reach the site of the battle, at which they defeated the British forces.
After dinner and bed,up again five minutes later at 4.30.
Thursday afternoon I did drop off to sleep for an hour, but woke in a panic thinking it was 4.30 in the morning and I had to be up, and then having worked out it wasn't, thought that it was my last full day in Africa and I didn't want to waste it sleeping so I took myself off to read some of the reference books they kept there. Late last night, followed by - yes, up at 4.30am.
Getting on the plane home for another 11 hour over night flight I did think that at least this time I was going to sleep, but what with a 6 foot 4 inch son leaning on me to my right, and my daughter fast asleep leaning on me to my left, and precisely one inch of spare leg room for me in the middle and not wanting to disturb them...Did I sleep? Did I hell as like!
But yes, although my intellectual ability is shot to threads as a result of my lack of sleep, and I am unable to distinguish between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, I do maintain that it is practically sinful to sleep rather than live each moment of such an experience to the full - and one can't do that if one is sound asleep.
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