I know I said yesterday that I would make 2 entries but one should cover the activities of the past couple days. Yesterday I went ot the Magailesberg Elephant Sanctuary and had an unbeieveable experience. The elephants there were all rescued from dangerous situations in the wild and have been well trained and are very used to people. After about a half hour of Elephant 101 from our guide Sam, three elephants were brought out to interact with the people. One by one we were able to go up and touch the elephants and feed them by hand. It's not until you're standing right next to one of these animals that you realize the size and power of these creatures. Also keep in mind that the elephants pictured are all young and will continue to grow. It was amazing how gentle they were especially considering that one of them had recently taken it upon himself to destroy one of the reinforced iron gates. Sam said he did it "just to remind us how big he is" and said that he went through the bars "like they were plastic". Anyway, it was a great experience.
Last night seemed like it was gonna be a lazy night until my 2 new South African friends who had spent the day drinking beer in the nearby mountains showed up at about 9:00 and asked if I wanted to join the at a local bar with a few of their friends. Of course, I said "Sure, why not?" It started out all right with a few beers but it all went downhill when they introduced me to the local shot called a "suitcase". Basically, it's a shot of Jack Daniels and a shot of lime juice. You sip half the lime juice and hold it in your mouth as you take the full shot of Jack. Once you swallow that you take the other half of the lime juice to close the suitcase. Needless to say these things go down like candy and it seemed as though the whole bar wanted to do a shot with the American. I think they call it a suitcase because you wake up feeling like you slept in one. Good times.
This led to a BANG! BANG! BANG! in my door at 7:45 this morning by Yogi to make sure I was out of bed in time to make the morning tour at the nearby DeWildt Cheetah Reserve. One of the South African guys came with me so we suffered together. The reserve has been around for nearly 35 years and is home to about 50 cheetahs and a large amount of African wild dogs, who are very endangered. The reserve was impressive although it was not the experience the elephant sanctuary was since we were confined to an open bus that sat 4 across and I was in the middle. The best part was watching the animals go absolutely crazy when the bus drove up because they knew they were about to get fed. One of the guys would toss a chunk of meat over the fence and 10 cheetahs would leap in unison and one would snag it out of the air and take off while the others regrouped and jostled for position for the next one. Tonight is Christel's birthday so Yogi has had a big side of springbok roasting for most of the day and it will soon be ready. I'm looking forward to tasting my first African game meat.
Tomorrow afternoon I will unfortunately have to leave Moonlight Backpackers Lodge for Sandton, a nice northern suburb of Jo'burg (or 'Josie' as the locals call it)from where I will be leaving on the 32 day overland tour on Wednesday morning. Not much as far as activities tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll post again but Tuesday I'm going on a full day tour of Soweto with a woman who has worked there for 35 years. Should be very interesting.