Location: Richard's Bay, South Africa
For half the crew this morning, there was but one word on our minds when we awoke: Safari. A bag packed, we parted with good wishes for our friends staying aboard Argo (there is unfortunately only room for some of the crew on the safari at one time. While Cooper, JJ, John, Jack, Taylor, Josh LN, Haley, Grace, Tegan, Keanna, Caroline, Marina, Britt, Kris, and myself attend today, the following morning, the rest of the crew will be headed out to return Sunday evening). It was a short drive to St. Lucia, the town where we would call base for our safari adventures. The town itself is small but well-appointed. The first sign we saw as we entered made us all laugh nervously: Beware of Hippos at Night! Apparently, the nightlife in this sweet little town can get a little, shall we say, large?
Local Hippos graze on the grasses of the town at night, but by day they can be found lazing about in the nearby lake. After dropping off bags at our lodge (Real beds! Flush toilets! Televisions! Glory!), we hopped on a river cruise on the said lake and spotted several herds (flocks? Floats?) of Hippos and a few crocodiles. My favorite part was seeing the brilliantly yellow weaver birds building their nests in the reeds. After the river cruise, we had a delicious dinner at Reef & Dune, sampling their wood-fired pizzas, burgers, and seafood. While we were all a bit exhausted and looking forward to our first night in a land-bed in 67 days, the night was not yet over! We were picked up in fabulous open-air jeeps for the main event of the day: the night safari. We drove into the blackness of the night, great cracks of lightning in the distance illuminating the plains – and the eyes- around us. Our guides shone spotlights out into the darkness, occasionally illuminating zebras grazing in the grasses, dozens of different species of antelope, wildebeest, and gigantic hippos. The hippos were the funniest, their short legs trotting along in front of our cars as they ran (at astonishing speeds!) down the paths, evading our lights. I believe Captain Kris called them “the Jack Russell’s of elephants” (although, as we learned earlier in the day, they are more closely related to whales). Finally, when the day was done, we all collapsed into our beds, still marveling that they weren’t trying to toss us out as we slept. The crew back on Argo had had a full day as well! MTE, a fish dissection (in which they found another whole fish within the first’s belly), and an exciting trip to Richard Bay’s massive mall, left them all ready for a good night’s sleep (and a touch of anchor watch). More fun from Argo soon and much love to all those back home reading. 23 days left?!? How is this possible??