A few months ago my Gentledyke and her wife came to visit and talk turned to camping and so on. I chipped in and nipped any ideas of a camping weekend in the bud when I said I don't do bush and Gentledyke's wife asked me why. I never got a chance to tell her the story because as so often is wont to happen when you put Hubs and Gentledyke in a room together, especially if you add a few drinks to the mix, things got rather ribald and they immediately started ribbing me about another kind of bush and it all went a bit downhill from there. Seeing as one of my
co-conspirators co-bloggers Pierre wrote about camping when nature hates you I thought I would share an old piece of mine as well. You know, to explain why despite the fact that I live in Africa, I absolutely abhor being 'out there'... I do think Pierre's misadventures in nature beats mine hands down though!
When we got back to South Africa after living in the concrete jungle called Barcelona for 2 years Hubs wanted to spend some time in the bush. Knowing that I don't do camping after the one time we went when we were teenagers and I had to bathe in an ice cold stream he booked 3 nights for us in a 4 star resort near the Kruger National Park. What he refrained from telling me was that it was a tented camp. A fucking tented camp!! I nearly had a shit fit when we arrived after a 5 hour drive and I saw our 'luxury accommodations'. Yes, the tents were on stilts. Yes, they had fully functional bathrooms and the rooms looked nice enough if you had a thing for pink. Yes, the duvets were goose down and snuggly. But. It's still a fucking tent! Even the bloody bar was in a tree.
It was with much trepidation that I went up the wooden steps into our tent and I was right to feel that way. I hadn't even put my bags down before I saw a HUGE spider with all 200 of its eyes glowing like something in a horror movie on the canvas ceiling above the bed. Clearly that was me and I legged it back to the car. 3 staff members, two ladders, a metal bucket and a broom later they managed to remove it and after having 5 vodka's in the tree to calm my nerves I went back to our 'room'. Long stories but suffice to say that I will only ever go back if Hell does indeed freeze over. Leopard tracks right outside the tent? Are you kidding me? I had visions of being pulled off the loo by a leopard with my knickers around my ankles in the middle of the night – not the best or most ladylike way to iron one’s wings. If leopards can climb trees they can certainly climb stairs so all the assurances in the world didn't make a smidgen of a difference to my abject horror at the situation I found myself in.
We also went on a night game drive in an open vehicle and the ranger managed to get us stuck in the middle of a pride of lions. When the male charged us and the ranger said with pure undiluted panic in his voice that we must shine our torches at it and shout? Jaysusmaryandjoseph. I tell you Butterflies, I have never felt fear like I did that day with my son sitting between me and a charging lion. In my panic to get to him my foot got stuck under the seat in front of me but thankfully the lion turned around before I dislocated something trying to get to my child. While all this was going on Hubs was trying to out stare a lioness on his side of the vehicle – further proof that we really are Yin and Yang. I'm shitting myself and the man is in a staring contest with a lioness that was close enough to touch. After that monumental fuckup and also getting us stuck in the middle of a herd of wildebeest the ranger got news that there was another pride or troupe or whatever of some more wildlife. I was not very popular with the rest of the guests when I said I can see it all in a book thankyouverymuch and would like to go back to camp. I got my way - I can throw a mad tantrum that would put a 2 year old to shame when necessity dictates and as far as I was concerned it really was a necessity to get back to the tree bar as fast as possible.
That night we had supper under a tree in a 'boma' and something fell on my shoulder and came slithering down my chest. I yelled like a demented djin and the whole table went flying when I jumped up frantically swatting at myself - food, crockery and cutlery rained down on all. It was a foil wrapped block of butter. Apparently there was butter balanced on my spoon and when I sat down I hit it with my elbow, flicking the butter up into the air and it landed with a thump on my shoulder. Such a commotion ensued that the kitchen staff came running to see what was attacking the camp... Not my finest moment... erm... Plus it taught me that there really is a reason for the table manners rule of no elbows on the table. The lady who runs the camp told me they had never seen anyone run up a tab like I did in that tree bar, but I’m completely unapologetic about that. When the going gets tough, the tough go drinking – in my case anyway. It also didn't help matters much that the first day we went to visit a traditional Shangaan village and every night after that I dreamt about impi with assegaai's standing over my bed, no wonder I couldn't get out of there fast enough. After we left I got a letter from the camp saying if I visit again they promise to keep the wild butter under control. Verryyyy funnyyyyy. Fat chance though, I won’t go back even if they paid me.
Fast forward a couple of years to when Hubs somehow managed to talk me into going hunting with a bunch of friends. "Don't worry babe, it's proper accommodation this time, not tents." THE LONGEST 4 DAYS OF MY LIFE FOLLOWED. Proper accommodation my ever expanding ass! It was dusk when we arrived and rounding a corner I almost walked right into a lion up on its hind legs and I suspect I pee'd a little when my legs turned to jelly. How in the blue hell was I supposed to know it was stuffed? I think stuffing animals is a horrible practice regardless of what kind of animal it is but anyway. I am very pleased that
defending teasing me by pretending to kill the stuffed lion that nearly killed me and shooting at cans was the only hunting Hubs did, I'm not sure how I would have been able to look at him if he had murdered Bambi.
The chalets had thatch roofs (spider paradise!), the toilet was so high my feet didn't touch the ground making it impossible to 'hover' over - a germaphobes absolute nightmare (Hubs thought that was very funny for some reason and asked me to put my hair in pigtails) and I stressed the entire time about the reason for them being built like that, the kitchen had no glass windows - just big holes in the wall, there was a leopard prowling around and there was zero cellphone signal. I locked myself in the car with my duvet, my pillow and a book the entire time the rest of them went hunting, feeling very
sorry for myself grateful for the cocoon of safety I created.
There is a sneaky picture someone took of me trying to make contact with the outside world with my phone and the abject misery on my face speaks absolute volumes. It wasn't really cold enough for the ski hat - that was in case something dropped on me out of a tree. What you can't see are the 3 layers of clothes I'm wearing, the cans of Doom in each pocket and my pants tucked into Wellington boots. I looked like a pink version of the Michelin Man but I couldn't give a damn. The very first morning when I tried to leave our chalet there were 5 enormous spiders that looked like crabs (I kid you not!) with weird hard shell bodies blocking my way to the door. After an epic battle with the Doom and every hair on my body standing on end I made it to the communal kitchen where a friend found me crying into the toast I was making for everyone when I realised I still had 3 nights left in the bowels of hell and said ‘friend’ thought that was hilarious. Motherfucker.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse a woman who looked like Ma Baker came driving up with 6 of her sons in the back of a truck all carrying rifles. My first thought was "Oohhhhhh ferk, we're in for it now. These people don't kill you, they keep you..." Turned out she owned the land and came by to bring the men a baboon skull which was meant to be good luck for hunting. Euw. As much as that creeped me out I was relieved I wasn't going to be kept in a basement a la 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Sleeping sitting up with only your nose sticking out of your duvet is NOT to be recommended either, I was an exhausted wreck by the time we left. I'm very grateful for the booze we took along; I never would've made it otherwise. I've since been officially banned from any trips into the middle of nowhere - suits me just fine. I told Hubs he can drop me off at Sun City next time and pick me up on the way back. I can't guarantee the health of his credit card statement though... To me the best part of that entire trip was leaving, I was so happy I took a picture!
Unfortunately it isn't just with camping that I get accosted by nature. This lovely portrait was taken in our garden... Apparently it's a baby!!! What. The. Fuck.
I had someone flick it over the wall with a VERY long stick into the neighbour’s yard. Serves them right, they’re the embassy from some godforsaken country that hangs gay people, so part of me hopes the spider grows up fast and has a good munch on ‘His Excellency’s balls and I shall chalk it up to Karma...
Is it really that strange then that I don't sit in the garden after dark? Every single room in my house has a can of Doom ready for emergencies. Sorry creepy crawlies, this is MY turf - you have the entire garden to party in and I’m prepared to give up on my plan of becoming a Buddhist if it means I can’t kill you little fuckers... I guess the fact that I wish I could live in a hermetically sealed bubble really does mean that the picture at the top is true after all... I don't really hate nature though, I just prefer to look at it all one step removed.
Live well, love much, laugh often and always remember to dance!