The Day the Water Blessed Us

It was only an 18 hour plane ride where I sat sandwiched between two friends, watching 4 movies, awake the whole time, feeling the point we left the Atlantic and crossed into African airspace. It felt like a homecoming in the air. My TMJ that plagued me for a week before the trip, miraculously disappearing.

And then another plane ride for about an hour and a half from Johannesburg into Hoedspruit, center of South African safari country, a small airport adorned with calved red wood furniture, featuring floor to ceiling posters from the many wildlife reserves promising the Big Five and more.

For the past week I’d watched CNN in rapt attention at home as they reported on the deluge, floods happening in nearby Mozambique. We were heading into that territory near the border with Mozambique and when we landed, South African Airforce planes were replenishing from their daily rescue missions into the flood ravaged country next door.

A wall of damp water logged air met us at the plane door. We were escorted to our vehicle, a large group of about 20 of us, heading to the Moholoholo Game Reserve in a big group safari vehicle with 5 rows of bench seats all open to the air to catch the best of the sights.

We clambered into the vehicle and drove along a highway past scampering baboons with babies hanging underneath mom’s bellies. The sight of some giraffes in the distance. Oohs and laughs and jet-lagged laughter. And then the rain started. A drizzle at first, just a gentle wetting, and then it got harder and harder and harder and we cuddled and tried to pull our clothes over our heads to shield ourselves from the pelting, driving torrent of water that pounded upon us pooling around our ankles in this crazy contraption of an open air vehicle which could have been an amphibious boat by now…  and the rain was like sharp knives against our faces, drenching our hair and every fiber of our clothes till it stuck to us, wet and heavy and stinky from sweat and plane travel and unwashed bodies mixed with red wet African soil, pungent and clean at the same time.

And finally this gang of drowned rats that we were arrived at the gates of the reserve, and the rain finally stopped.  Just long enough to let us know that we were no longer in control of anything. This Mama Africa does not play.  ©Kathy Stanley All photos KStanley

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