This time last year we were living in an African jungle on the eastern coast of Southern Africa.
Image: Penduka Safaris
*just for the record, zebras live in the grasslands/savannas and not in the jungle but I thought you would appreciate the pic.
We were in Africa on an extended holiday break so when a (very) good friend of ours said we could stay in his house ‘between the ocean and the jungle’ we jumped at it. Now, let me make it very clear that being ‘in nature’ in Africa is in no way comparable to a walk through Walden’s woods. While both – jungle and woodland – hold mystery and magic, jungles are primal, hot and teeming with life. There is nothing pastoral or tame in the few remaining indigenous pockets of jungle. Sure, we have black bears and grizzlies and belligerent moose but in parts of Africa you get an Ark load of slithering, slippery, super vocal and extremely dangerous animals (not that I’m saying a bad tempered bear isn’t dangerous) within spitting distance.
I cannot think of jungles without thinking of drums. And heartbeat.
The brush is so dense (see above) Mr thought he would have to buy a machete 😀 but his hopes of turning into a bushwhacking Indiana Jones were quickly dashed when we discovered footpaths and trails through the jungle and up into the surrounding mountains.
Not a day went by that we weren’t surprised by some inquisitive and potentially dangerous creature like this young male baboon who thought he’d vocalize his territorial dominance more times than was absolutely necessary.
His troop tried to break into the house. Twice. While we were inside. Apparently they have no manners. Apparently they do it not so much for the food but for the sheer pleasure of trashing stuff. Being targeted by a troop of baboons is no laughing matter. We tried to scare them away (as one would a curious bear) by banging pots and pans but that only seemed to encourage them.
Baboons are not to be trifled with. Neither are the venomous snakes. And there are a lot of those. You’ll find them hanging like vines waiting for a distracted bird or lying on the ground after dark to soak in the heat of the day. A friend of ours was bitten by a green mamba and was told at the hospital to get his affairs in order as he would have (approx.) two hours left to live.
Being told you have an hour or so left.
The good news is the snake apparently didn’t have it in for him. He lived because the amount of venom injected was not a lethal dose.
This time last year I was reading books by South African writers: Nadine Gordimer, Dalene Mathee and The Ivory Trail by T.V. Bulpin (there are many more excellent South African writers but these were in my travel bag). Wherever I go on my travels I try to read about that country or state’s nature and culture. It enriches the experience for me because I love history.
Mr read books on flora and fauna.
This Summer, we’re planning on venturing deeper into the wilds of beautiful British Columbia. Mr plans on (finally) learning the difference between a hemlock and a spruce…
What were you doing this time last year? Where were you?