Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Elephant Coast Experience

The idea of getting up at 4:45am to pack and get to Gateway by 6:45am did not blow my hair back but believe you me, it was all worth it. I had been invited by Carol of Personal Touch to join a group of event and conference organisors to attend a site inspection trip in Zululand.

On the trip up on a luxury coach, we all got to know each other. There were about 28 of us – strangers faced with spending the next few days together. It became apparent that there was nothing strange about any of these folk. What a great bunch!

The next 3 days went by in a haze of teambuilding, stunning venues, activities, wild animals, delicious food and memorable experiences.

At Ghost Mountain Inn the staff were so warm, knowledgeable and helpful we felt that we were leaving friends behind when we finally departed. A drive up the Ubombo Mountains through the local Zulu community, followed by drinks and snacks overlooking Jozini Dam once we reached the top, was fantastic. The boat trip on the Jozini Dam the next day was ...umm...very wet. It poured with rain. Spotting hippos popping their heads out the dam and wriggling their ears at us made our sodden state worthwhile though.

I am not keen on seeing animals in captivity but at Zulu Croc I could see that the snakes and crocodiles were well looked after and happy. The guides crammed us with fascinating facts. That reminds me, I still need to check if Vine snakes ever hang out in Durban North.

I felt relaxed the minute I arrived at Amorello Bush Golf Lodge. Could have been the yummy cocktail but I think it was the warm, close to nature ambiance that the place exudes. Although we were all pretty bushed after all our gallivanting about and early mornings, a good few of us partied till late, getting to meet some locals who frequent Amorello for its well stocked pub and pizza oven.

Considering the bleary eyes the next day – it was a good thing that it started with a look at Amorello’s eye-opening Ihlozi Private Lodge. I can but dream of spending a weekend there one day when I grow up!

Let me fill you in here that our itinerary had changed because there was a newly graded road causing problems getting to Bayete Zulu. Our trip there had therefore been delayed so we were looking forward to seeing our last site. Probably 500 metres from our destination the mud got the better of our gallant driver who, after numerous attempts to get the coach through the slippery mud, had to concede defeat.

We were picked up by Land Rovers but not after some of us had squished through the mud. The Elephant Interaction that awaited us ensured we forgot about the mud in-between our toes as we touched, fed and talked to the elephants. Rambo, Rachael and their baby Jabulani had us all mesmerised.

The vast, open view from the stunning 4-Star Bayete Zulu was our backdrop for lunch. I was impressed by what Bayete Zulu offers to accommodate families with children considering its 4 –star opulence.

We arrived back in Durban a weary but happy group of friends. To coin a much used phrase during the tour.....Viva! Viva Carol van Niekerk and Shaun Visser and all the individuals who made the tour so special. Viva Zululand and the beautiful Elephant Coast of KZN. Viva to making new friend. Viva!

p.s. If you would like to see photos of the trip – check out Personal Touch’s Facebook Page

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gladys-the Iron Gladiator

Today is one of my favourite days of the year. It is the day that Gladys comes back from her annual leave. Gladys is the Superwoman who comes to our home twice a week to do all the jobs that I hate; cleaning bathrooms, loos, floors and most importantly – ironing.

I just don’t GET ironing. You iron one part of a garment and that creates creases in other parts of the garment. Where the hell are creases supposed to go in men’s Chino trouser legs? And what’s with those pleats at the back of men’s shirts? How far down the shirt are you supposed to iron the crease?

Okay, so I am crap at ironing. All the other house work is very achievable when avoidance is futile. Roxy the fox terrier drops more hairs daily than bombs during both World Wars. Add the hair of 3 cats and you can understand why I consider my vacuum cleaner the best purchase I have ever made in my life (Ummm...actually, maybe I revere the dish washer more. It is a close call.)

Feather dusters are pretty useful too. I suppose Gladys’s eyesight is worse than mine because she does not seem to see that there are more spiders per m² (judging by the cobwebs) in our house than in the Amazon Jungle. That begs the question – what are the tenants that crawl all over our walls doing to earn their stay? Geckos and their droppings are only tolerated because they are supposed to keep the fly/mozzie/spider/small creepy crawly population down. They had better pull up their sticky, transparent socks – or face imminent eviction.

I am sure that most of you will agree that housework is a thankless, tedious, never ending pain in the butt. No sooner have you caught up with all the washing and the basket is inexplicably filled with more dirty clothes (especially if you have an Alien in the house.) Dishes warrant a scientific study as they duplicate and triplicate in front of your eyes before you can get them into the dishwasher.

Gladys may not be the best cobweb exterminator nor does she command the English language enough to understand much that I say to her, but she is a Gladiator with an iron. For that reason, she can probably be classified as my BFF because she makes my life easier. Welcome back Gladys. I missed you.