Friday, October 7, 2011

Wet and Wild Sudwala Welcome

Friday we vacated the understated luxury of An African Villa, for the puddle jumper that would take us up to Nelspruit and our week of rest at the Sudwala Lodge, a glorious piece of property about an hour from several gates to Kruger National Park. While waiting to board the plane in Joburg I noticed a woman in full black chador, nothing visible but her deep brown eyes and amazingly smooth young woman’s hands, engrossed in a dog eared paperback that I assumed (you know what they say about those who assume) was the Koran. What a laugh I had at myself when I found her sitting next to me on the flight. The book that had her so intent? Danielle Steel!

After grocery shopping, we’re in a self catering unit but there is a restaurant on premise, we settled in with Henk from Sundowners-Tours to plan our week. Yes, we wanted a safari in Sabie Sands and yes, we wanted a day in Kruger, but we also wanted to be sure that we could just sit around and read. Our chalet is about a half mile walk to the restaurant and, though it was pouring down a much needed rain, we set out for a hot meal. Sadly, the restaurant had closed, only a few staff members sitting outside waiting for their rides home.

As we began the return trek the thunder and lightning stepped up their commotion and suddenly we were thrust into utter darkness. Not a light to be seen anywhere throughout the compound. We had yet to reconnoiter or to remotely have familiarized ourselves with the grounds and I immediately went into full panic mode. Don, with the calm of a pilot who suddenly loses his instruments, found our way back by stopping, waiting for a lightning strike, and then walking until another one guided us safely home. We found out later than the emergency generator goes off at 10 pm. In other words, most folks should have been in bed, not out looking for food!

Speaking of food, and wine, or was I speaking of wine? Americans can do VERY well here with the exchange rate. On average,  80 rand = one U.S. dollar. We have yet to pay more than ten bucks for any meal and the food is outstanding everywhere we go. Wine? A normal bottle of the local pinotage, quite a bit stronger than our pinot noir grape, runs three to four dollars. A splurge might go as high as $7!

The windows here are all floor to ceiling wood framed glass, the roof is faux thatch because the baboons ate the real thatch roofs! They try very hard to give one an authentic feeling of being outdoors and within nature. They needn’t have worked so hard. This is what greeted us Saturday morning after our good night’s sleep Friday:

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