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New Beginnings Part I

The last time I wrote on here we were finishing up our last days working at Toro Yaka. It was a couple days full of mixed emotions. I felt good about the decision I had made about leaving a place that was harmful to my being, but at the same time it was sad to say goodbye to the people who had made a big impact on my life and the friendships that were created.

On Monday the 28th of October, after Lance had finished his last gamedrive and I finished helping with breakfast, we both went to pack. The car battery had died, once again, so while I finished up the last few things, Lance went to jump start the car. Unfortunately after almost 2 hours, we had realized there was something a little more wrong than just a flat battery, so we had to tow the car into town, to the nearest garage. After we had said our goodbyes and had organized a job interview that afternoon, it was a bit of a bummer to hear that they had to keep it overnight. Luckily we were able to stay in our room one more night and have some dinner, before picking up the car first thing in the morning. We were stoked to hear that it wasn’t a major issue and they had been able to fix it, plus it wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg. Back at the lodge we packed up our entire life once again and loaded everything in the car. It was time to say our final goodbyes to the staff, the amazing friends we had made over the past 4 months. It’s fair to say a few tears were shed. Driving away from the Balule felt very strange. I had expected to be more excited, but I just couldn’t. The thought of not seeing this place and the people we had met was a sad thought.

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 We had managed to move our interview at Londolozi a day and arrived after a four hour drive. The closer we got to the lodge, the more excited we got. It really was breathtaking and so much more open that the Balule. Being in the Sabi Sands was a dream come true, especially for Lance.

We met up with the head ranger of Londolozi, who showed us to the room where we would be staying for the night. It was absolutely incredible. And the views were stunning. We had an hour to settle in and relax, so we decided to get in the little splash pool and have a shower, before she returned to show us round.

Londolozi is absofrickinlutely amazing and I now understand why it is one of the top lodges in the whole of Africa._MG_4297-Edit-Edit

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She took us to “the village” where all the 280-ish staff members live and socialize at their own little pub. They also had a little pre-school here and ran a community project. I got very excited to see their involvement with children and the community, plus so many people (especially of our age) to hang out with. This was something I had missed very much at the Balule. We met up with some of the people who worked here and after a couple of drinks, the conversation started flowing and everyone opened up. They were all so very nice and welcoming that I immediately thought this place would be perfect! Eventually we went off for dinner and got to meet a whole lot more people and had such a great night, before returning to our room to get a good night sleep, before our interview the next morning.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I was awake every few hours, excited and thinking about all the impressions from that day and the interview we would have in a couple of hours. By 5.30 I was wide awake and decided to get up. At Londolozi they start the day with a meeting where all the camp managers come together at 7.30 and discuss what is happening that day, which guests are leaving, who is coming in etc. etc. so Lance and I joined them for breakfast and listened to what was being said.

When the meeting finished we headed off to the head office for our interview. It was a little intimidating to be sitting around a large table with 7 other people staring at you. At the start I was feeling excited and hopeful, but minute by minute I started to realize that this place might not be as suitable for us as we had hoped. They explained to us that Londolozi really is run like a machine and that the hours would be very long (easily 16 hour days!). We were then told that our relationship would probably fail in a place like this and that Lance would most definitely not pass the course he would have to do at the start of January, before he was even guaranteed a job here. In other words they really did their best to talk us out of it. Realizing the enormity of this job, the lack of time I would have for myself and not being able to work with children or community at all (the reason we had hoped to work here) I became less and less interested. Plus on top of all this, we were then told that they would also be claiming the copyright of every single photo we would take while being employed here.  I soon realized what a half ass job I was doing at selling myself. However, we must have done something right, because after they discussed us and convinced the owner of Londolozi that we would be a great addition to the company, they called us back in and offered us both positions, starting in two weeks time. I would be employed as Camp Manager, while Lance would do odd little jobs until his training course in January. I couldn’t believe we had just been offered a job at the top of the top, without even doing the best I could in my interview.

I had been so excited the day before, seeing the community projects they were involved in, the school they ran and the amount of people our age who worked here, but could now see that I wouldn’t be involved in any of this. It felt great to know that we could land jobs in a place like this, but gutted that it wasn’t going to be what we had hoped. We weren’t really sure how to feel, so decided to take a couple days to let it sink in and make a decision.

After our stay at Londolozi we continued on to Marloth Park, a reserve where Lance’s aunt and uncle have a holiday home, where we would be staying for a while. We decided to take the scenic route and drive through Kruger National Park.

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Marloth Park is down the South of Kruger Park and the two are divided by the Crocodile River, where many animals can be found. We went for several walks and drives past the fence and saw hippo’s, elephants, buffalo, crocodile, waterbuck, zebra, giraffe, warthog, impala, kudu and at one stage even a lion.

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Kruger National Park from the other side of the Crocodile River

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This friendly zebra showed up outside our house one morning. It was so used to people that it let us pet him.

On the 4th of November, Lances cousin, JJ and a friend of ours, Sam, came to visit us for a week. It was a week full of swimming, sunbathing, playing cards and drinking too much alcohol. We also went to Kruger twice and saw many cool animals!_MG_4541

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While in Kruger, just after lunch, Lance thought we would be interested in hearing a story about some elephants they saw years ago at this exact spot. He stopped the car and started explaining what had happened. I swear I can’t remember the story, because it bored all of us to death. It was one of those where you look at the person and ask them “Do you have time to tell that story again?” then all start laughing. He might have even made it up, I’m not sure. We all made fun of his “incredible” elephant adventure from years ago and drove on. However, he didn’t completely waste a minute of our lives, because if we hadn’t stopped to hear about his wild adventure we would have missed the leopard 🙂_MG_4575_MG_4576_MG_4577

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This ostrich came to visit us back at the house in Marloth a couple times, drinking from the watehole and hiding from the blazing heat that day._MG_4626_MG_4671-Edit-2_MG_4673-Edit_MG_4675_MG_4691_MG_4694_MG_4729_MG_4733

Lance found a local cricket club and played a couple games for them. It was nice to see him play again after almost a year._MG_4757-Edit

One morning we got a nice surprise from a troop of monkeys and about 20 banded mongoose in our backyard. Although you’re not really supposed to, we fed them some bread and bananas to keep them around and take photos. Possibly not the best idea, as while we were busy looking at them the biggest of them all had snuck into the house and stolen more food out of the kitchen, right behind our backs._MG_4762-Edit_MG_4764-Edit_MG_4771-Edit_MG_4782-Edit_MG_4785-Edit_MG_4802-Edit_MG_4818-Edit_MG_4824-Edit_MG_4826-Edit_MG_4828_MG_4830-Edit_MG_4831-Edit

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[…] If you missed Part I, you can find it HERE. […]

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