Elephants! 🐘 🐘

16 October 2018

“I’m cold, Mummy!” a little voice piped up at about 06:30. I invited her up to our bed for a cuddle and she fell back to asleep again, toasty warm in my arms. What a tender way to start the day!

Ian and I got up and dressed, leaving her to sleep in for a bit. Checkout everywhere in Africa is 10:00, but we are (almost always) ready to leave before then, as our days start much earlier than normal.

When Cornelia woke up, Ian and I had more or less finished our breakfast, but we sat together as she ate her Weetabix and took her Malarone tablet. I washed up and was on Cornelia duty, as Ian packed up the van. The flies and mosquitoes have been really annoying this morning, especially when I was washing up, and couldn’t bat them away with my soapy hands! I saw our hornbill friend again, who perched on a branch briefly before flying off.

As we were leaving the site, I suddenly remembered that I’d wanted to climb that big rock formation. I pulled over and suggested that Ian go first. Off he traipsed, in his flip flops (!) up the smooth rocks. He clambered up pretty quickly but couldn’t make it quite to the top (those flip flops were a bad idea!) but posed for a photo, nearly at the summit. When he came back, he warned me that he’d seen an unidentifiable big furry animal (which I had seen from the van) as well as two snakes, so warned me to mind where I put my hands and feet. Off I scampered, and in my trail shoes, I made it all the way to the very top. Yippee! Such simple glee!!

Objectives for the day met, we set off for Etosha, and stopped about 100kms away to buy beer etc from Spar, which Cornelia loved as she had her own little trolley that we filled with our shopping. There was a local woman behind us in the checkout queue, kitted out in full traditional dress, and although I am not a fan of surreptitiously photographing people, I did indeed take a quick snap. In hindsight, I should’ve just asked her if I could take one. 🤦‍♀️

We took the opportunity to fill up with diesel and top up our windscreen washer fluid which had been beeping at us for the last few days (adding to the long list of malfunction signs!), buy more firewood and have lunch, at the local Outjo Bakkery. Despite choosing macaroni cheese, she didn’t like it, and wouldn’t eat any of it. Lucky for her, she’d already ordered a chocolate milkshake…. We enjoyed our lunch anyway!

When we left the bakery, we took out some more cash and continued our hunt for camera batteries. I felt quite hopeful, as there was a camera store in town, but alas, he said I pretty much stood no chance of either finding a charger or alternative disposable batteries to fit. We also rang Amos about the tyre compressor who confirmed we should just take it in to a tyre place and they would be able to fix it. Despite having a long list of things to speak to him about, that was all we managed to get from him.

We had spent a long time in Outjo, which was a surprisingly busy little town, and with just under 100kms to go, we set off, keen to arrive at our next campsite in Etosha National Park, with plenty of daylight left.

We arrived at the entrance to Etosha just before 17:00 and on the drive to our campsite, I spotted a couple of giraffe by the roadside as well as loads of zebras!

Then, amazingly and wonderfully, I yelled “Elephants!” as a large herd of them not only walked near us, but crossed the road in front of us! What a magical experience having so many of these majestic beasts parade right in front of us. We had pulled over to the roadside, and we watched them as they took their time crossing over. We giggled at the baby elephants, stumbling across and well, the whole thing was completely magnificent.

With big grins on our faces, we pulled into the campsite reception where Ian checked us in, for the first time I think! We drove off to Pitch 39, which we found eventually. It is a big, gravelly open pitch and is completely bare. I was almost disappointed until I realised that this meant Cornelia has loads of playing space and we would have no really close neighbours.

In the car, Bugsy had been saying that she wanted to make “marshmallow sauce” and, like one of the elephants she’d just seen, she had not forgotten that I had promised to do this with her. She said she needed milk, chocolate and marshmallow, so with these three ingredients in a mug, I heated and stirred the concoction over the small fire that Ian had lit. Bearing in mind that she hates marshmallows, it was no surprise to me that she thought it was disgusting, although she tried it with bread, to see if that made it more palatable. It didn’t…

In the meantime, our new neighbours arrived and set up about three metres away from us, despite the enormous pitches. Ian thought it was because we had to share the electric supply, but it still made me roll my eyes. I’m obviously far more suited to isolated spots!! On the other side of our pitch, I asked (in my best bad French) if they had a Canon camera and if so, if I could borrow a charger. As luck would have it, one of them did indeed. And sod’s law, my battery didn’t fit it, despite us having similar cameras. Ha, so close, yet so far!!

After I’d made Cornelia’s marshmallow sauce, I went to work making our supper – frankfurters, beans and mash. Or Smash, if I’m being perfectly honest! Cornelia wanted her hot dog wrapped up in bread, and did eat that, but despite having no lunch, she didn’t wolf it down the way I thought she might. She kept saying she had a bad tummy, and I think this may be due to the Malarone tablets she’s taking, not that I’ve said this to her. She had a couple of yoghurts after her meal, then said desperately “I need the loo!” and we raced down to the bathrooms where her tummy emptied, just in time! Hopefully, her tummy won’t be bad tonight now.

Ian then took her off for a shower while I did the washing up. He had lit a mosquito coil earlier in the evening, so the van was mozzy free, and we all settled down for an early night, hoping the local tour guides would stop their noisy chat soon, as we were aiming to be up early for some game driving tomorrow.

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