We woke up at 5 this morning and by 6 were out the door and on the bus with boxed up breakfasts. After a 4 hour drive, we arrived at Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden! Chimps that were abused, raised as pets in captivity, or who have had rough lives are rescued and sent here to live and “just be chimps.” Our guide, Clayton, explained to us all about the chimps. He’d only been working there for 6 months, but knew each chimp not only by name, but also all of their quirks and stories. They were really rowdy animals! They all had their way of getting food from Clayton. One made raspberry noises and spit, another clapped, one hollered and threw a screaming temper tantrum, one walked on his hind legs and beat his chest, and yet another threw things at Clayton hoping to get his attention. Chimp Eden is also home to Tony, the oldest chimp in the world at 69 years. Another enclosure contained another clan of chimps, of which an alpha male called Cozy exerted his dominance over the group. To do this, he enjoyed throwing rocks and other things at us, causing the whole group to duck every time he was armed. He also walked on his hind legs and puffed his hair up to make him look bigger. Our guide told us he was castrated; therefore, he overdid his exhibition of masculinity so people would have no doubt that he was the dominant male.
We ate lunch there; I had a chicken mayo sandwich with some orange juice. Some people shopped around for souvenirs and such, then soon we were off to our next destination— Hotel Numbi in Hazyview, South Africa. Our room is amazing; it’s giant and spacious with a tall ceiling with a thatched roof. Huge beds, African decoration, and a large bathroom all fill it. The hotel is one of the prettiest hotels I have ever been to. Lakes, waterfalls, fountains, and flowers are all over the grounds along with some signs warning about animals (pythons, crocodiles, and hippos). We hiked around a good bit and even thought we spotted a hippo! Unfortunately, we soon realized it was made of stone, but it sure had us fooled for a while! Another things Victoria and I discovered was this chain of caterpillars. At first, she mistook it for a snake and it scared her to death; but caterpillars linked, one after the other, to create the massive moving chain. We lounged by the pool for a bit and hung out in the hammocks; it was nice to have some time to enjoy the beautiful place surrounding us.
That evening we loaded up in the car once again to visit the Shaagan Chief’s village. The Shaagans are a tribe in South Africa. During the drive while crossing a bridge, someone spotted a hippo in the water below. Wild hippo sightings are rare, and Rudolph even turned the van around and recrossed the bridge so we could see them again. There was not only one hippo, but two!
Once at the village, the immediately showed off lots of beautiful handmade things that we could purchase. There were so many cool things that I just wanted it all, but I ended up getting three things that I particularly like and plan to give as present once home. While shopping, one local brought our group a platter of “orderves.” This included fried caterpillars! I did not try one (I have no desire to be sick), but I’m sure they were really… tasty. After grappling with the slow credit card machine to purchase our new treasures, we were led down a path to the witch doctor’s hut. This woman uses bones to read oracles and can tell a person’s future by which way they fall. Natural medicine is another specialty of hers and she introduced to us a menagerie of native plants that could heal various ailments.
We then met the chief of the Shagaans— he was wearing a real cheetah skin! He was pretty cool, until he decided that he wanted me to be his forth wife. I joked with him that it was too much work. Shagaan wives have a lot of work given to them. In fact, the first wife chooses the second, the second the third, and so on just to minimize the work load. He assured me that he’d give me an easy job and offered me two cows. Tempting, I told him cars would be much more persuasive, but I would ask for my parents permisson because “that’s what we do in America.” He invited me to sit next to his thrown and even hold his staff; had the tribal chief not been hitting on me I would have been honored. I’m happy for the cool pics though!
We were then led to the tribal performance area where the people of the tribe sang and danced for us. It was incredible; their voices meshed in perfect harmony and their dancing was quick and graceful. They imitated several animals and hunting them. I was also impressed by how high the guys could kick. Apparently, girls like those who can kick the highest. After performing for a while members of the crowd were invited to join in. Of course I just had to go! It was a blast; we circled the fire holding hands and stepped in rhythm. It kind of reminded me of the people in Whoville. A cute little Shagaan woman danced and sang with me. I feel like I could easily be a member of that tribe (maybe not the chief’s 4th wife though)! They took an intermission and we ate traditional African dinner with them: chicken, potatoes, butternut squash, a nut and corn mix, homemade bread, and fruit kabobs. For some reason the chief decided to sit and eat with us and literally did not take his eyes off of me the entire time. I avoided looking at him, but everyone said he just kept on staring. Needless to say, I felt quite uncomfortable! Guess American sarcasm does not translate well in their language. When it was time to leave he stood right next to the exit nodding and shaking hands with people as they left. When I tried to casually shake and leave however, he would not let go of my hand and in butchered English said, “You come back” “wife” “back here.” Trying to let go of his hand, I smiled and said “yeah…I’ll be back!” That satisfied him, “good, good,” he said. I learned a valuable lesson today: do not flirt with polygamist chiefs of tribes because they WILL take you seriously!