This Time Last Year…

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?






11 thoughts on “This Time Last Year…

  1. Wow! What a trip, Yolanda. You’re a brave woman. Baboons trying to break in, venomous snakes hanging from the vines…I would have been cowering in the corner of the room. 🙂 I’m not very adventurous!
    This time last year, I was doing what I’m doing now…working. 😦 But, I’m grateful to have a job that I love!
    Great photos!

    • Thanks Jill. The odd thing is we don’t go out of our way ‘looking’ for ‘extreme adventure’ but when it comes to encounters with wildlife (of which we have had many) we’ve been very fortunate 🙂

  2. And I thought my place in the tropics was dangerous! We don’t have marauding baboons (luckily). What an amazing adventure for you! 😀

    This time last year I was sitting in exactly the same spot as I am now (yes – I’m a little boring) 😉

    • Ha! you’re not boring Dianne! and I seriously doubt your surroundings are 😀 We do seem to attract wild animals though (a few years back we had a ‘problem’ with a black bear – he just loved our backyard) not that I mind really as long as they’re peace-loving and mild-mannered LOL.
      have a great weekend Dianne!

  3. Fascinating! You are a brave and adventurous woman. This time last year, it was life in suburbia for me. The only jungle I’ve ever ventured into is of the concrete variety (and that suits me just fine). 🙂 We traveled through Europe and a couple points in Asia when our kids were very small and portable. I think we’ll resume this sort of travel within a few years, when our kids are older teens and more open to the idea of travel in unfamiliar cultures.

    • 😀 I felt very much the same way Gwen. I thought the kids would enjoy the ‘wilder adventures’ when they’re older and certainly they do but at the same time, my kids were fortunate to go on safari a couple of times when they were little and got to see elephants and lions etc in their natural habitats, you can imagine how that made a lasting impression 🙂 I wish for you many happy travels!

  4. Awesome Wow Yolanda!! Quite an adventure! And it must have been stupendously beautiful. South Africa is on my travel wish-list. I’ve traveled quite a bit (tourism background), also to Africa and so far closest to the SA bush I’ve been is a safari in Kenya/Tanzania which was a trip I’ll never ever forget. Breathtaking. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
    But last year this time in June I was right here in Mass. looking forward to explore some more of New England during lazy summer days..:)

    • South Africa has it all in terms of natural beauty – beautiful beaches, forests, mountains, deserts and incredible wildlife. I am happy to hear you have it on your wishlist. I cannot wait to start exploring the US but for the next 2-3 yrs we have a LOT of ground to cover in Canada 😀

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