Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010

The regular 5:30am chore begins again. Today we went to the river bank to do garbage collection and some more weeding. It certainly did not escape me that I am paying these cats so I can take out the trash. All for the sake of the animals and biodiversity of the region. Someone is certainly very smart. When we got to the river bank I was once again reminded that I was in the real woods. There were 3 pieces of trash in total - a stick of metal, some mesh, and one red plastic bucket. Wow. Sure ain't NYC. Humans ruin a lot of things.

The afternoon was spent quite lazily in the mid summer sun. I finished off my elephant poster project, planned out the second leg of the trip, and read.

We later hopped on another lion game drive late afternoon - found the same 5 cubs n 2 moms by the far riverbank. There was a lot of tourist activities today. Must be because of NYE. A mini brawl at the sighting spot occured when one of the makalali lodge car snuck in last minute and took our viewing spot. Vladimir (the Canadian) complained loudly, almost cursing them out. Claudia (the ranger) had to uncomfortably yell at him. It appears there was an unspoken pecking order between tourist and conservation privvy when it comes to sighting. We also found out that Renee (the Aussie) is a lesbian and Helga (lovely Brit) has never kissed a girl. I was hoping that would carry thru to something exciting at the party but alas, all talks.

We drove up to this little vista area in the middle of the savannah to check out the last sunset of 2009 and the first moonrise of 2010. Westbound, a beautiful clear red sky with the drakensberg mountain range backdrop. Eastbound, an even more impressive gigantic egg yolk colored full moon. In the middle were us, mike (owner) + his fam & friends, 2 dogs, champagnes, beer, appetizers, and lovely conversations amidst new friends. The next full moon NYE will be in 23 years time. I wonder where I'll be.

We made our way back to basecamp came nightfall to wash up and get ready for the party at mike's. It was my first foray into the wealthy side of SA. The place looked like it came out of a fancy travel mag. Immaculately kept, vast, superbly decorated with that African flare. His mom cooked up ridiculously good traditional afrikaan dishes. I couldn't see what they were in details but it was daaamn tasty. Of course the whole time we were drinking ourselves silly. The fam had such wonderful hospitality and everyone was very warm.

There must have been 40 people there. All of them were white. You could sense the social separation of the races thru conversations. It's no melting pot here. I now know why patson didn't come.

I partook in an impromptu continent beer-chug, representing the Americas. Mike was Africa. Kiwi (aka alex the ranger in training) was Australia/Nz.
Leaderboard: Africa, Americas, Aussie. Huzzah! Nearly friggin vomit. Never chugged a beer before.

6 beers, 2 tequila, 3 champagnes later we were back at basecamp, chatting smoking, playing guitar, trading travel stories. I learned about the southern cross and what makes one fall in love with the lifestyle here. By 3am we were debating whether to stay up and watch the sunrise (usually at 4:30). By 3:10 I passed out.