Sat 08/11 – Africa in a day

With a late night last night celebrating with all the teams at the hotel we were able to sleep in this morning as the bus did not leave until 10:00am. That was like quite a pleasure not to have to be out of bed at 5:00am as we have most days since we got here.
There were a few sore heads this morning at breakfast and the appetites we have seen all week seemed to have dissipated some!
All the teams are off on a bus tour to a Lion Safari Park today. Should be fun.

The Rhino and Lion Park was really a fantastic experience as we got to pet 5 different lion cubs. That was amazing. To be licked by one of these big cats and have him nibble on your arm was something not to be missed. Although the bus driver and tour organization left a lot to be desired as it turned out to be one of the worst organized tours we have been on in our life.
We are foreigners from all different countries on a bus with a local driver who doesn’t know how to get to the Safari Park because his only map is a tourist pamphlet from the hotel.
After going backwards and forwards down various highways for an hour and stopping here and there to read his tourist brochure we eventually got a GPS from the Italian team and I sat with the driver and guided him 10 miles to the park.
The worst problem was a total lack of information. A bus driver with zero communication skills, No tour guide and no instructions on what we were to look at when we got there. 40 people sat on the bus without air for 30 minutes at one point waiting for the 20 that had got off because we thought they were taking a potty break. Eventually we discovered that in fact they were enjoying a different lion and tiger exhibit across the road and we had all missed out. It was very frustrating for many on our bus with some frayed nerves and annoyed people as we finally made our way to the Banquet venue.
The ride to the Banquet was a bad as the trip to the lion park because once again the bus driver did not know where he was going and was unable to find the location. Once again we had David Hobby take a GPS forward to help him out and we finally made it.
The Carnivores Restaurant was quite an old rambling Conference center, gift shop and restaurant complex. Mostly constructed from large lumber the entire place was filled with bronze statues and native artifacts in display cases and lining the halls and stairwells.
When we first arrived we were seated in a chapel like building where every chair included an African drum which you held between your knees and a Rythm and Beat group was playing the drums on a small stage at the front. An hour long session was spent having a lot of fun learning how to beat a drum to a rythm in unision. Was lots of fun and I think the entire group of pilots and helpers enjoyed it immensley.
The restaurant area was dominated by a huge fire pit where cooking of a huge selection of game meats was taking place on skewers. It was a little smoky inside but the atmosphere was truly African.
The waiters brought the meat to the tables and cut our selections onto the plates direct from the skewers similar to the Brazilian restaurant style. We all enjoyed trying Kudu, Antelope, Zebra, crocodile and many other exotic game.
It was a great feed of my favorite food – meat.
This was the point where each of us said our goodbyes to the many new friends we have made from around the world. This F3J World Champs contest will be remembered by all who enjoyed the experience as an event of friendship and camaraderie and an incredible opportunity to experience the culture of the Sth African people.

We are homeward bound tomorrow. I have a full tummy, am on a bus back to JoBurg and am off to sleep.

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