Exhausted and humbled...
The ride from Richards Bay Airportl to Zulu Nyala was startling. The shacks or lean-tos called home to most people and the out house next door.
Women with babies strapped to their fronts and backs stood on the street hailing a ride like impressionable teenagers. There were local venders hawking their pine apples,wooden bowls or straw rugs. Our driver says the vendors live right there, in the woods behind the their merchandise.
Able, our young Zulu driver, has a smile that lights up the room. He uses the word “lovely” as some would use ‘Mam’. So for the hour and a half ride he sounded like this:
“How are you doing, lovely.” When we got stopped by the Police for a busted brake light, he said “not to worry, lovely, I am most apologetic.”
Able has been working for Zulu Nyala for 2 months. He is Zulu. He is delivered by the tribe along with 30 other new employees in the morning and then carried back to his village at night. His gratitude for employment is palpable. As he drives away from the cop... he rakes his hand across his head several times in a nervous tick. “Oh, lovely, I am most apologetic the light was not broken when I left to pick you up today”. I assured him we understood and to not worry. Mark actually slept through the entire incident. It was then I realized this interaction with the road side police is a “fire-able” offense, he was literally worried about his future with the company!
Once at Zulu Nyala we were checked in and shown around the newly improved campus. The landscaping that has been done is remarkable! But it displaces the zebras, monkeys and Nyala that used to hang out side the tents. There are lit pathways, water features with fountains and lots of giant aloe plants. The crocodile pit remains and those wonderful pre historic killers had just been fed and they were sunning themselves in the 80 degree heat. This place is so different from 5 years ago.
Our “room” is a half mile walk from reception and a man smaller than our luggage leads the way. He is surefooted and knows every one we pass. He has worked here 20 years. When we arrive at our room we are stunned.
The patio faces the mountains for sunset. The wall of glass as an entry way brings the outside in to this 600 square foot luxury accommodation. He puts our luggage down on the luggage racks at the bottom of the king sized bed and then teaches Mark how to use the Air conditioning. Our room has a couple of extra couches and two twin sized day beds. There is a “kitchenette” and a charging station. The bathroom is twice the size of our office board room. I’m humbled.
So many local Zulu live in “lean to’s” with no bathroom facilities or running water and then smack dab in the middle of their poverty is this glamorous facility for first world guests. It has to be surreal for the employees.
Dinner is served in and outdoor faculty under the stars. There are a lot of Americans here. All “winners” of auction packages like us.
Mark and I are 24 hours without sleep so we snuggle in early as we have a 5:30 am safari run in the morning with James, our ranger.
The tree frogs sing to us all the way back to our room. They are frigging crazy loud!