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Nathalie’s Travel Diary

Monday, 21 Nov 2005

Location: Wilderness, South Africa

MapWe didn’t go out this morning because some of us were going on the wilderness trail…! The ones who were going were Steve (the ranger), Samara, Rach, Emma, Rosie & myself. We were all very exited…
At 2 o’clock (after lunch) we were off. First we drove to base camp where we got our backpacks, bottles, sleeping bags etc. When we had packed our bags Steve took some time explaining the most important rule: we weren’t allowed to talk! & of course he had to shows us the hand signals he would use once we would start walking & then we were off. We had 45 minutes to camp but we had to climb (what I’d like to call) a small mountain to get there, so it was hard. A “wall” made of rocks surrounded the camp but I still felt it was quite open (however, that was before I’d seen our next camp site!). The first thing we did was to collect water. We walked for about 5 minutes until we came to a pond. We’d brought bags and such to fill with water. Though, one of us had to go into the water to collect it. Rumors said that there were lichens in the water so I didn’t exactly volunteer. The only one that did was Rach & Emma and myself couldn’t help laughing at it (she didn’t know)… Though, she only found two lichens on her feet. When we came back to camp we immediately started a fire & boiled some water for tea/coffee. Then we started arranging the place we were to sleep – we’d brought a sort of tent that we put up (though, it wasn’t closed so everything could get in, which it did!). At around 6pm we started cooking dinner – Steve’s famous goulash. Even though it was good I couldn’t help comparing it to my mums recipe – and when comparing it suddenly wasn’t so tasty after all… After dinner we toasted some marshmallows on the fire & after that we had the serious talk. We were told that we had shifts during the night where we had to keep the fire alive and look for animals surrounding camp. I was already freaked out during the day. How was I going to sit here all alone?? I couldn’t and neither could Emma, so, we decided to do our shifts together. We got shift 3 & 4, which meant from 00.50-03.10. We decided to go to bed at 10pm so we could be ready for the shift. Maybe that was a bad idea… When we’d just settled in I saw something crawling on the “tent” roof. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure if I was imagining things. But I definitely was not!!! When I lit my torch my worst nightmare appeared. A giant spider (later identified as a rain spider) was there just looking at us – waiting for us to go to sleep so it could strike! Emma started screaming & we were both calling for Steve to come & take it away. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough! We were both still in our sleeping bags so we had to crawl like worms. Emma kept pulling my leg because she was afraid I’d leave her – drama, drama, drama…
When we’d settled down Rosie had already finished her shift (the 1st shift of the night) & we realized we had to get some sleep if we were to stay awake. So, we went back to bed after having checked everything (several times) for creepy crawlers. No later than 10 minutes after we’d gone to bed Rosie started screaming: “SNAKE!!! STEVE. TAKE IT AWAY!!!”. I simply could not believe this was happening. Apparently it was a baby snake – a blind snake. And NOT welcome in our camp, so it was released “outside”… I fell asleep somehow, because the next thing I remember is being woken up & being told, “you’re up”. Oh my god, it was time to do the shift… We sat in front of the fire just looking at each other not knowing what to do. We couldn’t stop laughing & it only got worse when Steve told us to be quiet - & when he then said: “What part of be quiet don’t they understand?” We knew we weren’t allowed to talk; we were just so scared we couldn’t help it. Though, we soon stopped & before we knew it the shift was over. We had survived & I must say I was very proud of myself! (“,)