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Casually living in the bush


After our job interview at Toro Yaka Bush Lodge we spent the next 2 weeks with family friends who were so incredibly hospitable. The lent us their car to get all our stuff sorted, took us out for breakfast and dinner every now and then and made us feel right at home. We couldn’t have asked for more.

During those 2 weeks we tried organizing as much as possible. Lance had to open a bank account, but when we got to the bank the lady told us to get an affidavit from the police, saying that Lance only had a passport and no I.D. book yet. When we went back she told us it wasn’t explained well enough. After I had had a lot of trouble trying to contact Home Affairs for my residency those last few days, I wasn’t in the best mood and was ready to throw the chair at her. It would have been helpful if she had told us that the first time, so instead of going back to the police station we just added a few sentences to the piece of paper and tried a different bank, who were more than happy to help. Go figure!

Since applying for my life partner permit a month earlier I still hadn’t received confirmation and, as I mentioned before, trying to find someone who could help, was extremely painful. I must have talked to at least 20 people and listened to an hour of “Mr. Whippy ice cream truck tunes” which they play as they put you on hold. I kept being referred to someone else and so after a few days we decided to go into one of their offices and talk to someone in person. Well, that wasn’t a success either. Firstly the address on the website didn’t match the building, we then googled another office, who referred us to the Regional one. We typed it into the GPS and with 15 minutes before closing time we reached our “destination”: a township in the middle of Soweto. As it turns out there are several Harrison Streets in and around Joburg. Driving through Soweto was an experience and a half. I was quite excited to finally see this part of South Africa after having seen it on TV a few times, but this place was starting to look dodgier by the minute. We were the only white people in the whole area and stood out like a sore thumb. Little African children were running after our car, yelling and waving at us, while the adults were giving us looks as if to say, “what the hell are you two doing here?!”.  We made sure to get out as soon as possible. This was definitely no place to get lost!

The next day was Saturday and we picked up the car before heading off to the bush the next day. The owner was such a nice guy and extremely helpful and genuine. He had the vehicle checked with a well known testing station and cleaned it inside and out. Except for a few scratches on the bumper it is in amazing condition and both of us are very happy with it!

The rest of the day we packed our stuff and chillaxed in bed one last time. That night we took Toby and Lynn out for dinner as a thank you for all they had done for us and had the most amazing seafood platter. I ate so much I was about to pop, but it was worth it!

Sunday morning we left the house at 11. We said goodbye to everyone and headed off. Getting out of Joburg was a bit of a hassle, but eventually we found the right way and off we went. The last half hour of the drive is incredible and he views are absolutely breathtaking.

At 5 PM we finally arrived at the lodge and Happiness, the lady at the gate, seemed to have remembered us, because as soon as we drove up we went “Ahhhhhhh the couple from the job interview at Toro Yaka!!!!”. Her name really fits her! We met up with Nicole who showed us to our room. After a drink and a quick chat we unpacked our suitcases and had dinner before falling fast asleep, ready for our first day on the job.

The view from our room

Day 1: Lance was up by 5.30 and started at 6AM, while I was able to sleep in a little longer and started at 8. I sat down with Nicole who explained some of the stuff I needed to know and we went for a walk through the lodge, showing me around. At 9.30AM the game drive was back and it was time for breakfast. I helped out in the kitchen and served the food before sitting down with everyone else. It’s very nice to be able to eat with Lance and the guests in the morning, plus the food is incredible! After breakfast I helped clean up and had some time off. New guests arrived at 5, which we welcomed and soon after it was time to get dinner ready. Cooking for 12 people at a 4 star lodge is A LOT of work! It makes the cooking I did for 20 children at an early childhood center look easy! Around 7 the game drive got back and we served dinner at 8. By the time everything was cleaned up, packed away and we were done for the day, it was 10PM. My legs were killing me and I was exhausted. I’d really only had two hours off today and by the time I got to bed I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this, but it had only been my first day and I knew you can’t really tell what it’s gonna be like after just one day. Besides, once I get the hang of things and create a routine things will go much easier.

Day 2: I had a very early start today: at 5.45AM my alarm went off and by 6 I was up and running to get the coolboxes with food ready for a group of guests who were off to Kruger for the day. After every one had left I went back to my room until 8 when I usually start. I spent some time chatting with Nicole and when she had to go into town I was in charge of getting breakfast ready. One of my duties is to make sure that the rooms get cleaned properly, so while guests are out with Lance on drive that is what I do. After breakfast we had no guests in camp, so I had the majority of the day off.

Whenever I start a new job it takes me a while to be able to enjoy it and get used to everything, but when 2 large elephants strolled by and drank at the waterhole only about 15 meters from the lodge today I realized this wasn’t just any type of job, this was very special and I felt so grateful to have been offered a job at this incredibly beautiful place.

Lance showing Penny how to use the camera

Lance and Penny

Debra, Lance, Elly and Penny, 3 of our colleagues.

Debra, who works as a waitress and loooves to talk.

Elly, who helps in the kitchen and cleans the rooms.

Penny, who works as a waiter

Steve (owner), Lance, Debra and Penny

Woody the wood owl who lives at the lodge and often gets bullied by the other birds who will just make a whole lot of noise when he arrives.


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