Saturday, 9 July 2016

South Africa, day 6 - weekend in a hippy camp

I'm almost at the end of my first week here, and I'd be lying if I said it had flown by. I expected it to, and it hasn't - in good ways and in bad. I feel like I've been here for weeks, months, and it feels like so long ago that I was in my bed, guaranteed a hot shower and a meal that wasn't inevitably rice based. It's an experience though, and one I'm trying to make the most of, embracing the good and the bad.

First of all, I'm incredibly lucky to be here, and even luckier to be here with such a lovely group of people. There's nothing like spending every minute of your day with someone to make or break a friendship, and I'm so happy that I've made plenty here. I'm already dreading our group of 11 suddenly becoming 4, and the friends I've been so close to here in South Africa dispersed across the UK, Europe and the world. I'm excited to meet the new people that'll join us next week and the week after, and the chance to make new friends and have new experiences together before I come back to British soil and the comfort of everything at home. 

In the week I've been here I've seen lions, giraffes, tigers, zebras and cheetahs; I've fed elephants and stroked their trunks and tried to work out the best way to smuggle one home; and I've (sort of) watched a cow and Impala being chopped up to feed to the animals in rehab (there is no smell like it). This weekend I've travelled 5 hours to stay in the most bizarre place I've ever been, Wild Spirit Backpackers Lodge, a camp full of hippies who hug a lot, don't wear shoes, give out free shots and make excellent cottage pie. I've been to a party that was supposed to be in bus, but was actually in a tent, and then spent half the evening holding a torch so my friend could be sick out the tent. I've had conversations about Palmo's at 3am, and woken up to the most beautiful view of mountains. I've been horse riding in the mountains, on a horse named James Bond, and have the bruises on my bum to show for it. When I think about it, and I write about it, I've had a lot of new experiences this week and that was pretty much why I came here - to do something new. 

I'm not going to lie though, and pretend it's all been sunshine and rainbows. I've been cold almost constantly since I got here (Africa, what you up to?) and that's put us all in difficult moods. Whether it's a night of very little sleep because we're awake shivering, an early morning moving rubble and not being able to feel our hands, or the physical pain of not being able to have a hot shower on a freezing cold evening. We've had too little sleep, too many early mornings, too much rice and too little fibre. We've turned up at hostels which, despite being told they had, hadn't been booked and gone on a metaphorical wild goose chase to find somewhere else to stay. I miss home, and I miss not being cold and tired, and the knowledge that I'm here for another 3 weeks sounds and feels so daunting and scary...and cold. But I'm here, so I can't let it get me down just yet, and remember the awesome things I've done and the awesome things I have left to do.

Africa, it's been a long week - and I hope the next 3 weeks feel a bit more settled, because I've got rhinos to see, more elephants to feed, and orphans to meet. Over and out. X

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