Thinking positive thoughts generates positive feelings and attracts positive life experiences, but sometimes that’s just damn hard to do.
We all have our own story, made up by good and bad experiences. It’s important to look for the good in every day, even when the sun doesn’t shine, but there are times in each and everyone one of our lives when it almost seems impossible to feel grateful and see the beauty around us. At the start of this year I started my grateful project and as I mentioned in an earlier post it has changed me forever. My entire way of thinking, living and being has changed and although that doesn’t mean I don’t have my bad days, I am able to deal with them a whole lot better.
Since I started working here in South Africa, 5 weeks ago, life hasn’t been a particularly smooth ride. First the accident happened, then the cancer of one of my best friends, which has turned out to be the most aggressive type you can get, and this last week another incident that literally had me packing my bags, ready to leave. And every time you say “surely this is it, there’s no way it can get any worse than it already is”, but shit happens and you don’t always have control over certain situations. You just have to remember that everything happens for a reason and something good will come out of it (eventually).
What I learned this week was that although it’s very important to stay positive and focus on the good, it’s also important to let negative thoughts and feelings out, because covering them up with “fake” positivity doesn’t help you deal with it. It was a struggle and I had a really tough time, scared I would fall back into my old ways of being depressed, but I also knew I had to deal with them. Although it didn’t feel right to constantly be and feel so extremely negative, I did have my fair share of swearing, venting and crying and really appreciate those who just listened, instead of telling me to be positive.
Today I am finally feeling much better again and the thoughts of not being sure how much longer I will stay here for have disappeared. After a good conversation, talking through some issues it’s like a dark cloud has lifted off me and I can see the beauty of this place again, that was covered up by my emotions.
It’s important to think positive, generating positive feelings, attracting positive life experiences, to live in the now and not to dwell on the past or future, but I learned that every now and then you just have to let the toxic waste out instead of covering it up, because eventually it will overflow and come out in ways you will regret later.
Although this last week wasn’t a very happy one many good and exciting things have happened as well during the month of August, so to end it on a positive note here are some photos of life in the bush.
Sitting in the Landrover with Lance surrounded by a herd of over 200 buffalo drinking at the lake.
Another lodge while on game drive looking at the buffalo.
8 Aug: Most of you have probably seen this photo and heard the story, but if you haven’t, one afternoon while sitting in my room I heard some leaves rustling outside. I went to have a look to see 2 snakes fighting each other. They were standing up, looking very impressive, so instead of backing off I quickly grabbed my camera to capture what I was seeing. I’d never seen a snake in the wild and especially not this close. As soon as they saw me they stopped and this one came up to me, opening up its hood (which I later found out means it feels threatened). I was able to take this photo before it moved off again. When I told Lance he was in awe that I had witnessed something so rare and when I showed him the photo he was even more speechless, as the snake I had tried to get closer to in order to get a good photo turned out to be a Mozambique Spitting Cobra, considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa! I guess you learn something new every day…. 🙂
9 Aug: While having a break in my room, clouds were coming in fast. Dark and heavy. Thunder, lightning and eventually rain, lots of it! Thunderstorms in the bush are pretty exciting. Even though it’s winter and not supposed to rain, it came down in buckets!
10 Aug: The next morning the sky was still grey and it was cold. I felt like staying in bed, but work was calling. Luckily my morning got a lot brighter when I stepped outside the door and saw 3 giraffes just around the corner.
11 Aug: While on drive Lance had spotted an abandoned cheetah kill, so this morning we set out to collect the dead impala and bring it to our waterhole to attract animals. It was one hell of a mission to try and shove the thing into a garbage bag, trying not to gag and tie it onto the back of the vehicle. We were hoping to attract some jackals, hyenas or even some lions. What we got was better than any of those 😉
11 Aug: Every few nights we organize a boma dinner. We set up the tables and chairs around the campfire and eat our dinner under the stars. It’s always a magical experience.
12 Aug: One morning, while having breakfast, Nicole comes rushing in after a phone call about a pack of wild dogs not far from us. We immediately drop everything and get in the Landrover to go and see them. Less than 5 minutes later we spot a total of 10 dogs lying in the grass. It’s amazing to see them, because over the years they have become a real rarity. With less than 300 left in the Greater Kruger and this being the only pack in our area you are very lucky to come across these animals. We sit with them for a while, but eventually have to head back to the lodge as 2 of our guests need to leave to catch a plane. Once breakfast is done and guests have left we hear that the dogs have moved… right by our gate!! Once again we get into the car and go have a look. While sitting in the Landrover the dogs lie in the grass on my left, while I see our room, maybe 50 meters from where we are, on my right. It’s surreal to think that these animals live so close to us, literally within walking distance, although I wouldn’t wanna get out now.
A little lizard inside our curtains 🙂
Just a little scorpion spider…. (sorry Eva 😉
15 Aug: A few mornings after hanging up the dead impala Lance checked the camera traps that were set up and came back looking very excited! A leopard had come into camp the night before! That night we made sure to keep an eye on the waterhole and while in the kitchen making dinner one of the staff came running in, telling us the leopard was back! It was so amazing! Especially since I’ve never seen a leopard in the wild. I quickly rang Lance who came racing back from his gamedrive. Unfortunately by the time he got back it had disappeared, but while having dinner it returned and we all got to see it one more time.
Not great quality, but you get an idea 🙂
16 Aug: Our waterhole seems to be very popular with the animals in our area. This elephant had a great time cooling down by throwing water and mud all over himself. Lance and I had moved in closer before it got there, so we really had the best seat in the house. Because the wind was going in a different direction it wouldn’t be able to smell us and since elephants have horrible eye sight it never saw us either, despite being very close to it. We sat quietly for a while, checking out this enormous animal. No matter how often I see them, I never get enough of them. They’re just amazing!
Not sure which one I like better…
Some of our guests watching as the elephant cools itself down by our waterhole
16 Aug: That night after dinner, while saying goodnight to the guests a jackal appears at our waterhole. The first 3 nights, after hanging the impala kill in the tree, were a little quiet, but since the leopard appeared 2 nights ago there has been a whole lot more activity. I quickly tell the other guests, but by the time everyone is outside it’s run off. I figure the fact that everyone was talking very loudly must have frightened it, but all of a sudden a pack of 6 or 7 hyenas run past, chasing each other. They are so incredibly large and impressive to watch. They too seem a little frightened by something. One of them stares at the kill for a very long time without going any closer to it. We can’t see anything in the darkness, but something must be there to keep it from pulling the carcass from the tree. Eventually one of them is brave enough to do so and runs off with it. The hyenas stay around for a while longer as we watch them, before going to bed to get up bright and early the next day.
18 Aug: After dinner, once all the guests have gone to bed, Steve asks us if we want to go on a moonlight walk. Even though I am absolutely exhausted, I decide to go, and I’m so glad I did. Without torches, just the light of the moon it’s a very special place. Since I moved here, I have learned to look at the bush, nature and its animal in a very different way. I’ve always respected nature and the world we live in, but when you are surrounded by people who understand it, feel it and live it, it really changes you. It’s not something you can put into words, it’s a feeling. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think it was crazy to go for a walk at night in the bush, but when you live among these animals and you learn about them and their behavior you soon realize that as long as you use common sense and don’t do anything stupid it is possible and not as dangerous as you might think at first. I was amazed to learn that the actual danger, when you do these walks, are people. Most animals are long gone by the time they hear, smell or see you, but living in an environment where rhino’s are being poached and people are always on the lookout for poachers, walking here at night, you need to be very aware of your surroundings and make sure that when you do come across a house with its lights on, as we did twice, you know what to say in case people come out thinking you’re the bad guys.
19 Aug: Just over 2 weeks ago one of our prides of lions had crossed the river, leaving behind one of their females who has had a very bad break in her left, front leg for almost 2 years now. Although she is able to walk, she has a very bad limp (hence the name “Limpy”) and is unable to hunt. No one has seen her for 16 days now or know if she is still alive. Because the pride crossed the river using a man-made bridge, the situation is caused by human interference and so we felt the need to help. Therefore on Monday night, after all our guests had gone to bed, we drove up to a buffalo farm to pick up some guts. An incredibly large dead buffalo was lying on a piece of tarp while two guys were busy skinning the animal. Game hunting happens regularly in the area and because buffalo live here in large numbers they are one of the animals allowed to be killed. People tend to pay up to US$10,000 just to shoot them, something I really don’t understand, but it happens and since this one was killed that day we were allowed to use the guts, which otherwise would get thrown out.
Eventually they finished skinning and started removing the stomach, heart, liver, guts etc. It was quite gruel to watch, but knowing that it was for conservation and keeping a weak animal alive, I decided to get involved and get dirty. While blood came gushing out and the stank was almost unbearable I quickly grabbed a couple of plastic bottles to catch the “juice”. We put the stomach and guts into a large bin and tied it to the back of the Landrover. It was nearly midnight when we left and drove up to an open plain where we got out, dropped some of the meat and played a recording of a buffalo in distress over a loudspeaker. We waited and waited but nothing happened. We drove to a second spot, dragging meat behind the car and repeated the process. After playing the sound for a couple minutes we herad the sound of lions roaring from across the river. We quickly packed up and moved closer to where we heard them. Again, after playing the sounds, the lions responded. At this stage it was 2AM and Lance had to be up at 6, so after waiting for a while, but no lions coming closer, we dropped some of the guts and drove back to the lodge. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Limpy that night, but a few days ago while Lance was on drive, he spotted her, looking surprisingly healthy, which was great news!