I'm hungry, so today you get a photo essay about food, the first of several to come in the future of these journals. Hopefully, there will be one from each of five camps!
To set the scene, we begin at Kirkman's Camp.
At six every morning, Matt gathers us from our individual rooms and escorts us--for safety's sake--to the main lodge. We are the first guests there, because photographers like to be in the field at first light. I don't recall any other guests joining us so early in the day.
Matt opens the doors and turns on the lights.
Before us is a selection of tooth-breaking rusks. A traditional Afrikaners snack, rusk is a twice-baked bread with various additions, perfect for travelers as it does not need refrigeration.
South Africans must have teeth of titanium or else they always dunk these rusks in their morning drink. Coffee and tea are available, and some fruit juices.
|Laura (left), Matt, and Marg, eating inside.|
|My early morning juice and tea, with a hard rusk.|
|Some mornings, we enjoyed our drink and rusk on the outside pavilion, as Marg and Holly are doing.|
This is not meant to be a meal but a waker-upper.
Then, we head to the safari vehicle and the hot water bottles provided--thoughtfully--on these cold mornings.
|Camera, blanket, and a flannel-wrapped hot water bottle. Ready for a South African winter.|
Somewhere around 9 A.M., we stop in sites deemed safe enough for us to get out of the vehicle and walk around. Richard and Matt promptly and efficiently set up a table and adorn it with a selection of snacks and drinks.
Sometimes I used these morning breaks to wander, but not too far. On this day, we stopped at a large pond and I was immediately drawn to it by birds.
Staying far away from the water's edge (in case monsters lurked), I circled to the side where I "hid" beside a bush and waited for animals to approach for a drink.
|Impala. On all the predator's menus, these impala were very skittish and often ran off.|
|To my right, a male nyala also approached the water.|
|I mentioned I was hiding behind a bush, right?|
At other times, I would take my cup of hot chocolate and find a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view.
Laura Hannusch caught one moment as I sat on rocks in the morning sun, contemplating how fortunate I am and watching a pastoral scene of impala across the valley.
Here we are at another morning break:
|Marg is hugging her coffee for its warmth. L-R: Marg, Laura, Richard, Matt, Holly.|
An hour of photography later, we arrive back in camp for breakfast and a long break until three o'clock, a time during which the light is too harsh for photography and the animals are hiding from the sun.
|The ham she is slicing is wonderful!|
|My Hunter's Benedict.|
Breakfast at ten and followed by lunch at one is too much for us, so we opt out of lunch.
Then, at three, it's back into the bushveld and more photography, wildlife, and scenery.
In the early minutes of the declining sun, we stop once again at a "safe" site for Sundowners.
In no time, Matt and Richard have a table set up for what Americans call happy hour or cocktail hour. There's gin, vodka, rum, mixers, and wines, along with snacks--nuts, cookies, and always fresh potato chips.
And perhaps, not-so-safe. This Cape buffalo bull, one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, prompted a cautionary, "Get back in the vehicle, ladies," It paid no attention to us whatsoever.
Gin and tonic is the traditional sundowner drink, beneficial for its refreshing taste and for the quinine that wards off malaria-causing mosquitoes. But, it is during this late afternoon break, that we accidentally concoct a drink that will see us through the rest of this trip: coffee, chocolate, and the magnificent cream liqueur Amarula.
Myself, a non-coffee drinker, I went with chocolate and Amarula. Less dilution of the Amarula.
One was enough. By that time, the syllables in the name were inadvertently and frequently mixed up. Sometimes it was MochaChocoRula; sometimes ChocoMochaRula. Sometimes it became something unrecognizable by any of its ingredients.
Fermented from the sweet yellow fruit of the marula tree, with sugar and cream added, the alcohol content is 17 per cent by volume, the same as Bailey's Irish Cream. In any instance you use Bailey's, Amarula is the perfect substitute.
And, no, elephants do not get drunk by eating rotten/fermented marula fruits from the ground. Instead, they push over the marula tree and eat fresh fruits. Or, they bash the trees with their heads and knock down the fruit.
We return to camp at 6 o'clock and have an hour to freshen up, start downloading our photos to computers, and put the batteries on chargers.
Dinner was by candlelight outdoors, so photos weren't possible. But! Every other night, dinner was an expansive feast in the boma.
A boma is a construct made by natives to protect themselves and/or their livestock from predators. Traditionally made of thorny brush, bomas in tourist camps vary vastly in materials used to make them.
The boma at Kirkman's Kamp appears to be made of corrugated steel and doesn't look like much by daylight. At night, however, lantern and firelight reflects off the painted interior and turns it into a charming dining venue.
This is a buffet and the selection of goodies on the grill included several meats, sausages, and poultry, with an adjoining table full of side dishes.
|Other guests at the grill|
|Of course, a fire for roasting marshmallows.|
And then, came a surprise. You won't be able to see much, light in the boma being what it is, so sit back and enjoy the music.
By far the biggest surprise came in place of the morning coffee break. We rounded a corner and saw--well-hidden beforehand by brush--tables and chairs set up for breakfast in the bush.
Having once owned a restaurant, I can appreciate the work involved in setting up and preparing this wonderful surprise.
On this occasion, we were joined by another safari vehicle full of guests.....but we got there first!
|L-R: Marg, Holly, and Laura.|
|My bush breakfast: cantaloupe, that delicious ham with chutney, and a few grapes. Full disclosure: I followed this up with some scrambled eggs and bacon.|
I also miss it. Like, right now when I'm hungry.
And that's the food episode from Kirkman's Kamp. Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programing....