Monday, August 9, 2010

(Web) Surfin' Safari!

Monday, August 9, 2010 2:53PM

Okay before I get started, I was just editing/managing the blog posts, and had but one thought.

Seriously people?!? No comments on the entry about the grocery store (see "Botswana hear a story?")?!?! Come on now, I thought that was golden...obviously I thought it was more entertaining than that. I thought it was funny as I was typing it at least.

Don't you understand that I am a complete child in need of attention, and that I've been here with nobody to appreciate my stream-of-consciousness-inspired singing or my random jokes and animal noises?

Speaking of which, I am facing something that I realized I haven't faced before in my entire life (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong using THE COMMENT BOX...yes, wonderful beautiful comments). For the first night I was here, I was kinda miserable. I had just traveled without sleeping for 2 days, I was in a new place, in a dark house that creaked and squeaked at night. I hated it!

Then the next day my current roommate arrived, and even though we'd never met each other before, it was nice to have another human being to interact with on a regular basis. Semi-normal life again.

But as of this coming Thursday....I will be alone. I, Christopher P. Neumann, will be living by myself. Time for a history lesson:

Crispy is born with an older brother--> Crispy lives at home, sharing a room with somebody for the first 18 years of life--> Crispy goes to A&M, living in the dorms for four years--> Crispy goes to medical school, where, though they don't hang out too much, he has a roommate for year one--> Crispy takes a year off of school, where he lives with two friends, one of whom has a sister who...-> Crispy moves back to Houston for medical school and lives with three other guys for year 2--> Crispy gets married and has a roommate for life, right?


I don't know if I know how to live by myself. I may not be the most social person in the world ever, but I mean...I need someone to talk to! But no...for 16 nights it's gonna be the Crispy Solo Show...what in the world am I gonna do!?

Okay okay, I know, you didn't click the link to read a psychiatric diatribe. But trust me, I'm gonna be singing and talking to myself all the time...and there isn't gonna be anyone there to answer me or laugh at me or roll their eyes at me except the ants on the countertop. Sad day...

So end the long tangent....

Saturday afternoon snuck up on me as I was doing laundry and hanging it out to dry, and soon Elliot our cab driver was there to take us to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Granted, it was only 25 minutes out of town, and I had heard other people say it was kinda like a zoo...but if that's a zoo, then I must be a white boy from Texas in the middle of Africa (which I am, but it's still not a zoo!)

About 15 of us loaded into what I can only refer to as a "game drive vehicle." It was an open air large truckish type of thingy with bench seats in rows, no seat belts, and a rope on the side of each row that our guide was certain to put up before we got started...because if nothing else a silly hanging rope will surely stop a charging rhino or catch a 200 pound body falling out of the car.

So we got underway, and this terrain wouldn't necessarily be what you think of when you think African "game drive." it was really kinda forest-like, but since it's dry season here it kinda looked like desert.

As we drove along, our guide stopped an pointed out different species, "That is impala," "This is called "Go-away bird"". It was nice, and enjoyable, and the views were very pretty. But I was ready for something bigger. Sadly, there were no elephants or lions (SAD) on this reserve, but soon enough our guide got a message over the radio, turned down a path that said "No entry,' and was looking around very excitedly.

Eventually we came to a stop and on our IMMEDIATE right were three rhinos! Apparently they were a family (and live in family units, unlike the promiscuous impala who have a harem of females following one male...apparently St. Francis never got the chance to teach them about Theology of the Body). They were at first about 30 feet away, but soon they came toward our vehicle and had to be told not to come any closer, which our guide communicated by three quick claps of his hands. We watched as they moved about and eventually moved along, and then we were on our way again.

Then they saw us:

To make a long story short, we drove around for about an hour, passing a watering hole that apparently had abou 2 hippos and 5 gators/crocs (whichever). I started to get the feeling that this reserve wasn't doing a very good job at "reserving nature." I mean, I was still pumped to see everything, but it seemed like in a few years if these animals didn't get down to it they wouldn't have any babies to carry on the reserve tradition!

About midway through, we stopped and were able to meet Duma and Letoatse, the reserves two cheetahs. Sadly, their mother died before she was able to teach them to hunt, so since then they have been held in a smaller area of the reserve and fed daily to keep them from starving. Who knew that it took 5 pounds of donkey meat a day to keep them from starving??? However, this meant that we were able to go inside their area...AND PET THEM!

It was a little bit sad, because these kitties were soooo tame. I mean, granted, they told us we could only pet them on the head, and when Duma turned onto his back like a dog asking to have his belly scratched, our guide told us to back away because it meant Duma wanted to play. This is all well and good for Duma, who likes to play, but Duma does not understand that his unretractable claws are far from "play" if he were to just try to spar with you a bit. That being the case...petting on the head was just fine for me. Long story short, semi-tame or not, I TOUCHED A CHEETAH!

Our tour wrapped up with a drive through the reserve as the sun was setting, and finally stumbling upon someone that I had forgotten I wanted to see. A giraffe! Apparently the only one on the reserve, but still insanely tall, roaming free (complete with birds eating parasites off his neck), and still with a 25 pound heart to pump blood all the way to his head. And did you know: "A giraffe will always be asleeping with his neck up...if the neck is down, that means you know something is wrong: either he is dead or he is sick." Who knew? Also, a single kick from a giraffe is enough force to kill a lion....and they kick all four legs at once. Finally, random useless knowledge for the day: a giraffe walks moving both left legs at once and then both right...silly giraffes.

We saw a few other creatures, but those were the highlights. As I would overhear someone say later on at the reserve's restaurant, it was apparently "Safari Light." But I wasn't on safari like Mr. I'm-from-the-UK-and-I-have-two-weeks-to-go-on-Safari-in-Africa. Safari light was plenty good an intro for me.

As if all that were not enough, we stayed for dinner at the reserve's open air restaurant, with tables set underneath a huge grass roof.

As we waited for our table, we noticed some impala coming up to feed right up next to where an about 5 foot stone wall stood as the restaurant boudary. Since it's dry season, there apparently isn't quite the same vegetation, and the animals can be lured out with food. Needless to say this was great, but even better was when we ran down from our table to see the rhino family in the same place! This time, they were arguing with each other over some grass thrown out by one of the guides.
I crouched right on the edge of the stone wall as they walked up sense of wonder getting the best of my sense of potential danger, I suppose. Seriously though, they were so close I could have EASILY reached out and touched the rhino's horn! And I should have, but I was afraid the workers would yell at me, though none were in sight. Silly me...afraid of some reserve guides, but oblivious to the thousands of pounds of rhino 3 feet away.

As the rhinos duked it out a bit over their free food, we sat down and ate our own not-free food (free of fighting and charging to decide who got to eat what). We finished up, and by the time we had paid, our taxi had just arrived to pick us up and take us on home.

So I realize that it's Monday afternoon now, but my hands are tired and I'll finish the update for yesterday and today in a bit. Time to check the email, which here should take long enough to give my fingers a break!


  1. You have my attention. I enjoy reading you posts. I know how much I like it when people comment on my blog, because it means I know that there is someone reading it. It sounds like you are having fun in Africa. I'm jealous.

  2. Those pictures are toooooo cool. I'm sorry your singing and jokes are wasted on the ants...maybe they'd roll their eyes at you, but I never would...hehe. Love you.

  3. Enjoyed reading your blog and have empathy for your situation. 16 days without a room mate. I know the feeling.

  4. i can't believe you touched a cheetah! that is soo cool! and i didn't know that giraffes walked that way. i had to look it up on youtube to make sure :)

  5. I will make sure to laugh at times when I know you are up just in case you said something funny at that time :0) John-Paul and I love you and miss you!!!