Life in the Chalet
In Pilanesberg we stayed in a Chalet at Manyane resort. The Chalet slept eight and was pretty cozy- two bedrooms, a loft, a living room/kitchen with a sleeper sofa and two bathrooms. There were six of us. I met Regan’s family for the first time and would be staying with them. Thank god I loved them. They were loud, irreverant, had no boundaries, light-hearted, and very sweet. They immediately adopted me as one of their own. They said I was pretty quiet during this part of the trip, but, I’m claiming jet lag.
At night they watched television and I slipped outside to enjoy the warm summer night. Eventually Regan and her mom Viv, and sister, Sheldon, would join me on the porch and we’d smoke cigarettes and have conversations ranging from politics to family to plastic surgery. During this time I felt I learned the most about them. Slowly the others would go inside because the “mozzies” were getting them, but I didn’t seem to notice the mosquitoes.
They wanted me to have my own room and bathroom, but I begged and demanded to have a roommate- so Lauren and I were roomies for three nights. It was fantastic, as we lied in our twin beds at night and giggled and talked and she told me about her hopes and dreams and fears about leaving for boarding school the following week. Our final night we discovered spiders and other creepy-crawlies. Neither one of us like them (okay, we’re terrified of them). I tried to rationalize- would I rather inhale pesticides and get some weird disease later and be spider-free? Or would I rather be eaten alive by Shelob? I opted for spider-free. The thought of African spiders in my bed made my skin crawl. I’m very proud of Lauren, she killed every single bug for me. Albeit, both of us were screaming at 1:00 am and woke Sheldon.
I was battling jet lag during my stay in Pilanesberg. I was one of the last asleep (Lauren was the last) and the first one awake. I had a hard time staying in bed my second morning in Africa- I was too antsy to return to sleep. I decided to walk around the resort and watch the sunrise. As I was exploring, I came across a sign that said, “Do not feed the baboons.” I hadn’t seen one yet and doubted their presence.
I found a miniature golf course and an aviary. As I walked passed the course, I saw the silhouette of a baboon through a gate and I could hear a lot of thumping and crashing. I practically ran, finding my way into the miniature golf course and weaving over bridges until I neared a brick wall. Several thoughts crossed my mind- am I being that stupid American tourist? Will these animals rip me to pieces and eat me? Should I be afraid? I decided I didn’t care and approached the wall. It was about 5 feet tall and an iron fence topped it. The gate was open, but I could shut it if necessary. Because baboons can’t climb or anything.
There were lots of baboons. Trashcans were knocked over and thrown all over the place, their contents were strewn everywhere. A baboon was rolling a trashcan in the distance and making what I assumed to be a very satisfying sound. Many were sitting in the trash and scavenging for food. Younger baboons were running and playing, jumping onto swings, fighting, wrestling, running all over the place. They jumped onto picnic tables twisted and turned to jump off, then on and chased one another off. Some sat around, watching the young while infants nursed. A few walked to the swimming pool and drank. I watched in wonder for a long time.
I watched the baboons until they became more docile and prepared to roost for the heat of the day. My new family was probably wide awake and frantic, wondering what happened to their American visitor. I decided to head back. When I returned to the Chalet, everyone was still asleep.