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Hey, folks! Happy Saturday! Let’s jump right into Part 3 of the South Africa series!
I didn’t always have my camera out so there are quite a lot of things missing from these photo posts, but you can get a great overview of the entire trip from the vlogs that Myron posted. In between Pennington (the last post) and the campground at Bakgatla (this post), we visited a small bush church. You can see a video from that day by clicking right here.
We left for Bakgatla early Monday morning and drove all day, arriving late afternoon. The guys immediately started setting up tents, and the girls helped where they could. (They were so efficient that we mostly just relaxed while they did all the work. 😛 We made supper when they were done.)
Brother Paul and Sister Nelaine Lapp from PA were our “parents” for the trip. Bro. Paul spoke at many of our school and church programs. It was a blessing to have them along!
Rachel observing from her perch in a tree ^^
A few analytical minds played chess while we were at the campground:
The campground here at Bakgatla was located right outside a huge “Big 5” game park. We camped there for four nights, and unfortunately it rained every single day we were there. From the looks of things, it had rained for awhile before we got there, too. The ground was rather wet and soggy. Thankfully most of our tents stayed dry, but Wian had to sleep in his vehicle for a few nights because his tent had become an indoor swimming pool. Paul and Nelaine stayed in the van for a few nights because their tent was a little soggy as well.
Shavonn’s face when she learned that the girls were all sleeping in one big tent in the middle of all the other tents:
(We were glad to learn that we would be protected!)
We managed to fit eight girls into one tent. It was a little squished, but we were used to that by this point. 😉 Getting in and out of the tent without getting mud all over our sleeping bags was the hardest part.
“What are we going to do about all these monkeys?”
The faithful Mercedes van (driven by Bro. Lawrence) that hauled the eight girls around for most of the trip:
The little pavilion in the picture below was our main living area, believe it or not. It was difficult to fit 22 people under that thing, so eventually we found a back porch off of one of the office buildings that we commandeered for hanging out and even eating breakfast sometimes. Unfortunately it was a fair trek from our campsite.
We only had two camp chairs, and Roy was usually sitting in one of them (it was his, after all), so seating was a problem, especially since the ground was always muddy! We resorted to sitting on the pull-behind trailers and leaning against trees, but mostly we did a lot of standing. Sitting down to eat? That’s a luxury. As are mattresses. The mud softened the ground under our sleeping bags a bit, but we were all glad to head back to the Samekoms conference center for the weekend and put our sleeping bags on top of mattresses again!
The very bright spot about this campground was that the bathhouses (known as “ablutions”) were amazingly up-to-date! Tile floors, many sinks and mirrors, and multiple showers were actually an upgrade from what we had experienced so far.
Our schedule while at Bakgatla was a bit different from while we were at Pennington. We still gave programs at schools every morning, but when we were finished (usually in the early afternoon), we headed out to the game park to drive around and find animals. I’m going to cover that in the next blog post since I have so many pictures from there. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my own from the schools, but if you check out Myron’s vlogs (click here for the playlist), you can see footage from them. Vlogs 10-13 cover our time in Bakgatla.
Yes, monkeys. They were the most invasive, annoying critters I have ever set my eyes on. They were not scared of humans, and they would walk right up and steal things! One monkey stole 2 bananas out of Frans’s tent early in the morning. David chased him (and woke all the girls up in the process), but the monkey just scrambled up a tree, ate the bananas, and dropped the peels on the tent.
Our neighbors were gone, so the monkeys made themselves at home. They figured out how to open the zipper on the tent…. We alerted a campground employee who chased them off and tried to monkey-proof the tent.
Vlad decided to take his own revenge:
Myron is trying to edit some vlogs while Vlad hunts monkeys:
See the water jugs above? We had to either buy or boil all of our water while in South Africa. That was definitely one of the most inconvenient parts of the trip. I actually had a water filter bottle that I used the entire time, which was really nice because sometimes we were running short on water. 16 singers drink a lot! Thankfully no one ever got sick from the water.
Rachel and Leah cooking – rice and beans, I believe.
Roy’s trendy scarf:
A lot of us kept travel journals. Cari got a different person to write in hers every day, so it became a really neat community scrapbook!
The road to the campground:
(It was not unusual for animals to mosey along the roads in the rural areas.)
Last but not least, our breakfast for nearly every morning of the trip. I wondered why we always had cornflakes until I went to the grocery store. Literally, most of the cereal they sell is cornflakes! “Make every Rand count!” indeed! (Rand is the South African currency and is currently equivalent to $0.08 USD.)
Despite the unfavorable conditions, our camping experience was definitely a highlight. When you live with a group of people in those kinds of circumstances, you bond very quickly. 😛 We spent many a late night playing games on the back porch of the office building and discussing deep topics in the laundry room (because it had a partial roof as well as a floor). We cooked meals in one big pot on two hot plate burners, chased monkeys, and ate cornflakes and bologna sandwiches together. Many memories were made during our four days of camping, and I wouldn’t trade the experience!
Don’t forget to check out the vlogs to get details about the school programs we gave!
Next week: pictures from the game park!