Thursday, June 9, 2011

Not So Different After All

Tuesday, May 17

Tuesday morning found me back on the trail of that Impala that eluded me on Sunday morning.   Being such territorial animals, we were not surprised to find him right back on the grassy plains where we had first spotted him.  The only difference was that on that first day the sun rise was behind our backs so his ability to get a good look at us was hampered by the sun shining in his eyes.  Today he was on the other end of the field and the sun was behind him hampering our vision.

I have to brag on Arno here because we were able to stalk across what was a practically wide open field with only a small four foot bush between us and him and he never knew we were anywhere close to him.  He contentedly grazed and grazed while we alternately walked and froze in place each time he looked up or down as the case may be.  The plan was to get behind the bush, put up the shooting sticks and get ready for the shot.  We were almost in place and my heart was again racing like a jet engine.

Unfortunately, just as we were approaching the bush, about six feet in front of us two Francolin's flew up in our faces.  This spooked the Impala...and he ran away, never even aware of how close we were to him.

We drove around a little longer, still in search of a kudu...but after seeing only Springboks (too expensive!)and a female Waterbuck, we decided to head in for the day.

We had plans for the afternoon, which included a trip to the taxidermist to view possible mounts and a little souvenir shopping.

But one of the most memorable events for me was going to the South African equivalent of a junior high football game.  We went to watch Ruan play Rugby!
These two pictures (above and below) are of the 'scrum'.  I had no idea what this was all about, but it was interesting to watch.  According to Wikipedia, a scrum is 'where packs of opposing players push against each other for possession."
All I know is that the ball was laying on the field, the teams lines up, linked up and started pushing.  I told Tino and Amanda that Rugby would never make it in America because there would be no athletic shoe endorsements out of it.  Notice all the boys are playing barefoot or with their feet just wrapped in tape?
This is Ruan getting ready to kick...I think it has something to do with extra points...but don't get me to lying!
Throughout our trip I kept thinking how different everything was while at the same time being the same.  For me, this picture of the two teams shaking hands at the end of the game was the perfect illustration of that truth.  I may not have understood a single play that occurred on that Rugby field that day...but I understood sportsmanship and those parents watching with pride as their boys played their hearts out.  I even understood the calls shouted onto the field from the father's sitting in the bleachers, as well as the arm around the shoulder after the game walking toward the car as they went over the plays with their sons.  After all, it looked just like us after one of our boys' games!  

I have been asked many times since we returned what was my favorite part of South Africa. Without a moment's hesitation, my answer is always "The People".   Yes, they are going into winter while we are complaining of the summer heat.  And yes, they are finishing their day about the time we are getting to work.  But EVERYONE we met --without exception -- whether our Outfitter or a person in the airport or a shop, everyone was so personable and without pretension.  Yes, the views are amazingly beautiful and oftentimes even awe-inspiring...but the people touched my heart and have now spoiled me for Africa! 

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