Friday, December 21, 2007

Last Day in Port Elizabeth - Addo

Sunday, 11/25

Beautiful weather this morning. The ocean was dead-calm and the sun was already peeking through the clouds. Greg showed up at nine, and we had one more passenger today, Paul, a Jameson marketing representative from Dublin. Between his Irish accent and Greg’s not-quite-Cockney British, listening to conversation was a treat.

Today was the Addo Elephant Preserve, and our pitfall of the day was getting stuck on the road for about 45 minutes while they cleared a multi-car collision. At least four cars, maybe five, and rumor had it there were 3 fatalities.

Once traffic cleared, we were at Addo within about 10 minutes and drove for about 3 hours. The vegetation was very different from yesterday. Thick bush, making it harder to spot game, but we still enjoyed up-close and personal looks at the elephants, as well as wart hogs and kudu. It took awhile to adjust to the different appearance of the elephants and wart hogs. Here, they were covered in the red dirt so they appeared red instead of the grays we were used to seeing.

We drove alongside an ostrich who refused to yield enough of the road to get past him until Greg reached out the window and ruffled his wing feathers, at which point he moved faster until he was in front of our mini van, but now we were stuck behind him until he decided to move to the ‘animal’ side of things and leave the road to the cars.

We saw new birds, including a goshawk, and a new antelope, the red hartebeest. Zebra gathered near a water hole and terrapins swam inside it.

Road signs warn that dung beetles have the right of way—they’re very important in recycling the elephant’s output. There was also a predatory zebra snail, about the size of my hand. After a drive to the top of the mountain for some vista photographs, we stopped for lunch before the return trip to the hotel.

Tonight’s our last night before the return to Cape Town where I’ll be working. We’ve allowed a day to settle in, and I’ve said I’d be available if my assistance is needed with getting things set up. With luck, we’ll have a more reliable Internet connection and I can try to catch up on all those day-to-day routines. I have to admit, it didn’t take long at all to get used to not being in touch with the outside world. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to plunging back in.

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