Saturday, December 19, 2009

Live: The Adventure Begins

A quick breakfast at the Tulip Inn and then onto the bus – what I call the Blue Devil, internally. It's large, holds a number of people, and is hot as hell. There's no AC and so when you're sitting still, you're roasting. When the bus is in motion there's no problem – there's a good breeze coming in through the windows keeping everything nice and cool.

Pick your partners well, 'cause you'll be with them for some time. It's strange how decisions like where you sit on the first day can change so much. Friendships are born that may lead anywhere – and it was all because of a random seat choice you made at one small moment in time.

A Chinese girl from L.A. (29) was beside me, across was a guy from Scotland (18) and a girl from Germany (25) – she was also on the Capetown tour with me. And for the first part of the trip we talked. But after an hour people started to nod off. I looked out the window. We passed small mountains, or tall hills -

And for some time this was enthralling.

While the world outside seemed so fantastic and new, the same landscapes ultimately turn from foreign and engaging, to expected and... dismissable.

We stopped at a service station to fill up, and pulled out tables and chairs for lunch. In the lunch circle there was a lot of silence. Couples quietly whispered to each other, but all other conversation seemed surface, and forced. People were trying to figure each other out. Lunch was boiled hot dogs. Hey, it's better than I was eating in Europe.

After hours of driving we arrived at our campsite. We were taught the proper way to set up the tents to avoid eye loss, both our own, and of those around us. Proper snake and scorpion tips were also handed out freely. Minutes later our tent city was fully assembled, and the sun setting, me and the Scot from one seat over, headed down to the Orange River and jumped in for a swim.

Fighting the currant, I felt – for the first time – as if I was truly in Africa.

Around the camp fire conversation grew, and cliques began to form. This is unfortunate, but inevitable. With twenty five people, it's impossible for everyone to love and spend equal time with everyone else. Still – there is no animosity here, not yet anyway.

Marshmallows were roasted on tiny kabob skewers. This required getting far too close to the fire for comfort. What could be done? It was soon discovered that the skewers could be stuck into the ends of the pieces of bamboo that made up our fence. Many pieces of fence died for our sticky gooey treats.

And then most people headed of for bed, while the guides, myself, and my swimming partner headed down to the bar. It was there that a giant white spider (A red rover, I believe it was called) climbed up my leg, across my back, and down my shoulder – and over the bar. There, the people began to scream, and jump on stools. I'm glad that I didn't notice it until it was jumping off of me. And if the locals were that terrified of it, that couldn't have meant anything good.

It should be noted that South African beer is terrible. It tastes like American beer. Here they prefer quantity to quality. Four types were sampled, all with the same result. But if one had to choose? Tefel is the beer of choice down here.

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