Silence….. and a broken washing machine.
I don’t even know where to begin to describe how strange life here in Kruger is at the moment. On normal days, the boys wake us up just after five. And when I hear the cars come over the bridge, I know it is time for everyone to get dressed and get ready for school. But now that we are on lock-down there are no cars. No OSV’s, no tourists and other visitors at reception. Just silence…
A beautiful, ear-opening silence from all the noises from the outside world. And we don’t even have lots of noise here at Malalane Gate compared to city life. I know that very well. But the silence is what I noticed first after Kruger closed.
All we hear now are all the different birds in and around our garden. It is too stunning for words and after the crazy couple of days trying to get some supplies after the lock-down was announced and Steven only back from trail on Wednesday (I didn’t feel comfortable going to town with the two boys) it is very good for the soul.
Now, as fate might have it, our washing machine broke last week. Nothing major, just a pipe at the bottom that leaks, but completely unusable after almost flooding the kitchen. We ordered a new pipe from town, but with China not supplying the world during their lock-down, there is not a single pipe for our washing machine in the whole country. So we learnt yesterday.
So here we are. With no washing machine and a stack of dirty laundry thanks to the amazing storm last night. Quite a shitty start of our lock-down if you ask me;-) Luckily my dear husband made a plan and arranged with the Berg en Dal camp manager that I could come and do my washing in the Laundromat in camp. Armed with my ‘Form B: Declaration of citizen’s movement in exceptional cases’, my facemask, gloves and hand sanitizer, I ventured out of the safety of our home and set off towards Berg en Dal.
Last night’s storm broke the heat and today’s weather was lovely and cool. Except for a few impalas and warthogs, the road to Berg en Dal was very quiet. I kind of expected lots of road-blocks left by the elephants in the form of elephant poo, branches and twigs, but there was none of that. Maybe the animals are also still getting used to the quietness that is our new normal for the next three weeks.
As I expected, I didn’t come across a single car on the road. Except for the section ranger who stopped me, but waved me through with a sympathetic smile after he recognized me and I told him about our broken washing machine.
The gate at Berg en Dal was open, which for a moment made it look like business as usual, but the camp itself was completely deserted. The camping grounds empty, with no voices of happy families enjoying their holidays. All the chalets were deserted. The monkeys had had an absolute field day breaking open all the dustbins and after that, they had also left camp. The Restaurant and shop were closed as well as the reception.
Before putting my washing on, I wanted to have a quick look at the dam. And when I walked back, a gentleman in a SANParks shirt came up and asked me if I was the lady that needed the Laundromat. He said the camp manager had asked him to come and give me some hand sanitizer and see if I needed anything else.
I could do with some more new 5 rand coins and he happily opened reception to give them to me. A few minutes later I walked out with squeaky clean coins that he sanitized before he handed them to me. I am very impressed and grateful for how the camp manager and his staff helped me and their sanitizing policy!!
After I put my washing on, I set out to explore camp a bit. I had never walked the rhino trail before and that seemed like a nice thing to do while I was waiting for my load of washing to finish. Then, all of a sudden the thought of the leopard that had entered the camp popped into my head. This made me chicken out on the rhino trail. So I just wandered around the deserted chalets instead. (Casually glancing behind me every now and then. Lol. )
Seeing the camp deserted like that was probably the most surreal experience of my life. A place that is usually teeming with people all there for one reason; because they love the park – now deserted. Just birds, squirrels and a few bushbucks. Not another human being in sight. And again, that lovely silence…
I sat on one of the benches by the dam while I waited for my laundry to finish and just listened to all the birds. A hippo and a waterbuck went about their business, undisturbed by any human sounds.
With my clean washing in the back of the car, I slowly drove the quiet road home. Where we are going to light a fire soon and enjoy a bit of bushveld TV for our anniversary. It is such a strange time for all of us all over the world. It is scary, lonely and shakes our normal routines to its core. But I am going to try my best to see this lock-down as an opportunity to make memories as a family. I am sure we are all going to look back at this in a few years’ time and reminisce about the three weeks we spent at home together!!