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Dorise solo on safari - August 2008

Dear Friends,
This August I decided to treat myself to 3 days at Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa. It would be my first solo adventure but what a relaxing trip this would be!

The day before my departure I packed my luggage, checked my papers, phoned the taxi to fetch me at 4.30 for the 6.15 Mango flight to Durban on August 8th. I went to bed early to be fit for the next day and  for all my future adventures.
Fiddling around with my alarm-clock it suddenly showed the date to be the 8th already instead of 7th! I nearly fainted - could I be so stupid to miss my departure by one day on my very first trip on my own? My heart was pounding and my pulse racing when I ran up to the computer to find out about the correct date. It took longer then ever to start my PC - I hurried to get my calender loaded and nearly fainted again when I saw the current date: August 7th - no need to worry...  My alarm clock was wrong.
After all this excitement my sleep was not too good and when the taxi came too early without any announcement of the gate I was not ready. Stress!
I hurried up - got my suitcase and handbag  into the car and tried to lock the door - in vaine - it somehow did not work. OK, I decided to leave it and off we went - but only just around the corner - then I found out that my warm clothing was still at home. No way would I go without my warm jacket - I knew too well that it is freezingly cold during the south african winter on the game drives. Back to the house  but no chance to open the door. Finally I realized that I left the spare key in the lock at the inside... What a disaster since there was no way to open the door now! So I went without my warm jacket and got worried how to get back into the house on my return after 3 days at midnight.
In Durban I had hired a nice automatic VW Polo - brandnew. The staff and myself struggeld to get the boot open - managed finally - off I went.
First turn already I took wrong and ended up in the blackest area of Durban. Not one white face - a huge market - 1001 taxis hooting and pushing. I tried to stay calm and made my way through the traffic and blocked street crossings. I did not find the N2 but ended up on the coast road that took my directly to the Zimbali Golf Estate where I could buy at least a wind breaker. Back on the N2 I suddenly felt very tired and there was a big need for a nap. I managed to turn off into a remote street where nobody was to be seen. The nap was reviving and I was happy to go on - but - I could not get the gear in. What now?
The VW manual did not say anything. I tried different things in and out of the car - nothing. What a misery - my first trip and already a disaster. Suddenly the sign "P-locked" disappeared and I could drive
(most probably someone listened to my intensive prayers). I promised myself not to stop before I reached Phinda.
Without any more incidents I arrived at the lodge - had a great game drive - nice company - I was well looked after. The early morning drive I skipped because I was too tired. Getting back to normal I thought it would be so nice to have a massage - outside on my private deck - lots of bockies and wharthogs around. I booked for the next day. After the game drive I enjoyed a hot bath in my luxury bathroom. The friendly lady arrived - the massage-table was ready for me - I arrived wrapped into a huge towel and tried to climb onto the massage-table. Believe it or not - that thing collapsed and I went head first onto the ground missing my little private pool by centimeters. I do not know what frightened the Zulu girl more - the broken massage-table or the
fact that there was a complete naked white object lying on the ground like a fish that could not get back into the water.  Luckily enough I did not hurt myself seriously.
We had great game drives at Phinda and saw Elefants, Lions, Cheetas, Zebras and Giraffes. It was stunning.
The day to go back came too quickly. I took my time and finally called security to fetch my luggage. The car was parked for me with the key inside and of I went. After a 20 minutes drive I thought it might be an idea to look if my luggage is on board. Clever girl!!! The boot was empty. Back I went and after some time they found my suitcase - I got extra chocolates for the hassel and was ready to leave again. But - no way I could get the gear in. About 10 people were standing around giving me advice but it did not work. The manager called the staff that drives the guest cars to the parking lot. The guy gave me a big Zulu-smile and told me: just push the brake madame - the miracle happened - the light went of and I could drive to the airport.
On my way back I suddenly discovered 5 cheetahs. I stopped the car and watched them for some time playing around my car. Great!
After arrival at Durban I had phoned my friend Juan to look after my door. Juan takes care of my back and neck and is very handy. Obviously he had finally managed to get into my house by climbing over the wall into the drying yard and open the door to the garage. He had to climb over several times to get tools out of his car because it was his first time to break into a house. Beeing careful not to be watched - he could not succeed. Nothing will be unwatched at Erinvale!
When I went for golf the following morning there was a huge laughter:
who was that very attractive man running around your house and climbing over the wall - your curtains were closed - you are unfair to us - you have to share him with us. 
What a trip! I survived and will do it again. Frank must have had a laugh -- but I am sure he was also proud that I finally got it all done.
Best regards from

Dorise Hettlich

Impressions from Phinda


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