Elly's stories December
As we expected Cassius regretted his decision to resign. Both him and his wife try to call us and send messages to convince us to take him back. When Silias returns from his leave he and Cassius are waiting in town to get to Ximuwu. No sign of Mythi our temporary guy. According to Silias he has another job. So Cassius thinks he can come back, but our decision is made. Cassius can not come back. He misbehaved so much that we don't want him any longer. Our doubts about the story of Mighty becomes true as two days later he calls us why he could not come back.
Anyway, this story with staff will probably continue for a while as we decided to turn the new guesthouse into a commercial lodge. We will operate under a so called “exclusive use only”.
Groups up to 8 and a minimum of 4 people can book our place exclusively for a minimum of 3 nights.
Not only do we believe that we will be able to give anybody a great safari experience, but will be the first lodge that is purposely built for wheelchair access. Not only the rooms are accessible as in some other lodges, but also all our activities are accessible. Everything except for walking safaris. We have adjusted our Gameviewer, so game drives in an open vehicle and bush diners will also be part of their activities. We have purchased a shuttle bus that is accessible so our ‘wheelchair’ guests can be collected from the airport.
A pool-lift to provide access to our pool and splash pool and even a bar stool with lift is in the making. Our main challenge is that everything still looks nice and it does not bother anyone else.
The new year is a year with new challenges and opportunities for us. We have no experience in the lodge Industry so there is plenty to learn. But because we are new, we also hope to come up with new innovative ideas and concepts. What started as an additional guesthouse for our friends and family, has now turned into a much more serious adventure. We don’t want to be just another lodge but we aim to be the best lodge in the area. Being involved with every aspect of this lodge design. From the first sketches of the lay out up to every detail of the interior design. Building materials, wall decoration, colours, furniture, bar and deck design, every part is being discussed and designed by the 4 of us. Patrick checks with a wheelchair or all sizes match with what is requested. Remarkable how something that was a negative period can turn into something positive!
The building is getting shape and on my birthday Marcel and Monique set up diner on our new terrace. The four of us enjoy my favorite Korean BBQ and could not be happier with our view. The cheetahs, the jackals, the hyenas and a lot of plains game pass by and when it gets dark the sound of the jackals makes it all complete. We all believe that if this would be your first time on a safari, you have to think that life does not get better then this.
Mark and Jess are starting next week. Mark will have to get to know the area and the animals and Jessica will start creating a menu and select with us the rest of our staff.
Besides our involvement with the lodge construction we still have time for other things.
As usual around the festive season there are a lot of poaching incidents and a lot of rhinos get killed for their horns. Jana, the helicopter pilot, got her night rating and she flies now with night vision. In the back she takes 2 rangers, also equipped with thermal night vision, to check the reserves for poachers. She invites me for a night patrol flight. Around 3 o’clock in the morning she picks me up on our landing strip and then I fly for the first time in my life in the dark with night vision. Incredible how much you can see with these devices and at the same time so scary if you take them off. Jana is such a power girl!
Hopefully this technology will help us to better control the poaching, at least the poachers won't be safe any longer in the night.
The reserve has asked us to post no longer any pictures of rhinos to prevent poachers having information where and when they were spotted. So people that like to see them will have to come and see them life.
I get a request for relocating a male lion. But when I was told that besides a veterinarian also someone else would have to join the flight, I have to decline the offer. This is too heavy for my small Cessna and besides the weight they also informed that it could take a couple of days to catch the lion. That creates a whole other problem, the weather around this time of the year is very unpredictable. Hopefully soon they have a smaller cat that needs to be transported.
Because of Covid we keep delaying our trip to Europe but now we have no other option. I have to renew my flight license before the end of January.
After our visit to Cape Town after Christmas we decide to fly back to Europe. It is great to see some friends there, especially Leo and Bianca who we did not see since May.
Despite the lock down in the Netherlands we invite my mum on her birthday for a diner in Belgium, she could not be happier.
After 5 days, a number of visits to friends and a renewed flight license quickly back home.
And there we are back in the middle of our Summer, we have abundant rainfall this season. The bush and grass is very thick this year. One would think it would be more difficult to find the animals but to the contrary we spot a lot of game. Yesterday we had a bush diner with our neighbors which usually is half an hours drive but after 10 minutes we got stuck in a large group of elephants with small ones and another 20 minutes later it became clear they had no intention of moving out of the way. We decide to turn around and take another route, but when we arrive on the river crossing we see a large tree branch blocking the way. When Marcel wants to remove that I suggest to him that maybe someone has putted it there because the river is way higher than normal. “Yeah good thinking” says Marcel and again we have to turn around. Finally 1.5 hour later we arrive at our diner party in the bush. Great food, great wine and above all wonderful people made another fantastic evening in the bush. On the way back, we see rhinos and a hunting leopard. Who can say that after a diner with his neighbours?