Zimbabwe Report #4

Happy Easter!

Easter formally began on Friday here.  They thought it was unheard of to only celebrate Easter on Sunday!  It is a 3-5 day holiday in this country.  I am looking forward to finding out what the local customs are… possibly hunting for ostrich eggs?

We celebrated Good Friday on “The Rock,” one of the highest rocks on the property, getting there was an adventure in itself.  Straight up rock ledges in the 4×4 jeep was like a ride at Disneyland.  Well worth it though, it was like having dinner at the top of the world.  
We built a blazing fire, watched the sunset and grilled Zimbabwean Eland Sausage with fresh Cape Buffalo Steaks.  All of the game here tastes incredible.  Whether it has been aged or taken fresh right off the animal, there is absolutely no gamey taste.  The biggest surprise was the zebra.  In South Africa, we were told no one eats it.  Here it is much appreciated and we all thought it was some of the most tender meat we’d tasted.

It was the most elegant barbecue as we ate on real plates, used glasses and silverware.  There are no disposable things here, no paper plates or cups, no plastic utensils, no paper towels… they don’t even use tupperware type containers as there is no reliable refrigeration for leftovers.

The lodge owners sister drove up for the Easter holiday from Johannesburg and surprised the boys at the campfire when she produced a large bag of MmmmMallows, the South African brand of marshmallows.  Funny to think that in many corners of the globe, kids enjoy burnt sugar on a stick.

While we ate in the dark, the boys used headlamps (they didn’t trust I wouldn’t put too many vegetables on their plates), we were serenaded by hyenas.  They sounded very close but we knew they wouldn’t come near as they don’t like the fire.  A few days prior, Scott and the game scouts heard a leopard in the grass near where we dined.  The grass is so tall this time of year, I can only imagine what eyes are watching us.

After the hyenas quieted down, the baboons started going crazy.  The males give out a loud bark type grunt and the females and young ones just chatter like crazy, it sounds like fighting but it is mostly play.  The baboons are pretty curious and don’t like humans too well.  One day when Kaz was in the blind, a large male baboon came in and barked/grunted at them as he paced around circling the blind.  Kazden later said the noise was pretty loud and kind of scary.  He looked right though all the twigs, knowing very well that there were people in there trying to hide.  He later went over and sunned himself on a rock and just looked annoyed with the intrusion.

So after our dinner on the rock, we had another exciting ride down the hill in the dark.  There was no road and I kept thinking we were going to go shooting off a cliff.  Jonathan, our guide, grew up on this property and knows every rock by heart.  As we were nearing the bottom though, he played a trick on us like he lost the brakes.  We about bounced out of the open air jeep… needless to say it was Braxton & Kazden’s favorite part of the evening!

Everyone fell asleep right away, well, everyone but me.  I was still a little keyed up from dining with wild animals and the heart-stopping jeep ride (and the fact that there was a huge centipede on our bed right before we all tucked in).  Another troop of baboons moved in close to the camp.  They were really noisy and I couldn’t believe no one was waking up.  It sounded like the male was right outside our tent.  I couldn’t close the tent flaps as we would have suffocated from the heat, there was no breeze and it was about 90º.  So I just lay there thinking what I would do if the baboon came pouncing on our bed- they can be quite feisty.  I kept hearing footsteps outside the tent window, I was seriously awake by now.  I even called out to Scott but he continued to sleep peacefully.  When I heard bones crunching, I knew there must be a leopard eating our cameraman right outside our tent.  I scrambled around in the dark for a flashlight and shined it out, thinking the worst… it was our guide’s dog, Diesel, chewing on a cape buffalo bone left over from dinner!  (Okay, so I blame my overactive imagination on the Jeffery Deaver book I just finished.)

Kazden got his wildabeast on Thursday.  It was a day to celebrate.  His first official big game animal!  He was thrilled, his reaction priceless!  It is going to  make a great TV show.

Both boys feel they have really contributed, it has been such a valuable experience for them.  As we sat around the table for a late lunch, eating Braxton’s zebra, watching wildabeast and warthogs at the water hole, we really felt a part of this place.

Scott has finished up his 5th show and starting on the 6th.  Today I spent some time in a blind, trying to get an impala but we got rained out.  Lots of thunder and lightning but our first big rain of the trip.

We are hoping to wrap things up here and head to Victoria Falls in a few days.

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter… being here has really made us count our blessings!

Musare Mushe,
Tiffany & boys

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