After the drama of the journey to Sabie, things started to look up.
The relaxing part of the holiday had finally begun as we made camp and cracked open our first drink. We were planning on spending the majority of our time under our brand new gazebo and set up our gear here accordingly. Chairs, table, charcoal and our crate of kitchen utensils were all equidistant from our braai area and the cooler box. Although exhausted from the trip, we spent a fantastic evening out in the fresh air discussing the itinerary for Sunday before turning in for the night.
It was 2am when we awoke to what can only be described as a massive bucket of water being poured from the sky. The lightning-silhouetted gazebo was visible in flashes through the side of our tent as we had heard the gentle “clink” of its frame snapping under the weight of the torrential rain.
It was still raining when we finally emerged to face the river now raging through the front end of the tent. The destruction of our camp was total. Nothing was right-way-up and anything mildly absorbent had been soaked beyond recognition. As we ate what remained of our soggy cereal, we discussed a trip into town to find a Laundromat to dry our towels, which were now lying in the pool of muddy water.
What two city girls failed to take into consideration was the fact that this was Sunday in a small town. The only place that was open was a tiny “one price” store in the centre of town. Hope faded fast as we perused the aisles of cheap salt-and-pepper shakers, plastic pot plant holders and children’s cowboy hats. Our little whimpers of joy were heard from the back corner of the shop as we found a basket of towelling nappies. Based on the available options they were exactly what we were looking for.
Standing at the till to pay for them, I noticed that the cashier kept looking at my stomach. As I was handing over some damp bills she could not restrain herself any longer as she blurted “Are you expecting?” I stared at her blankly for a second before answering with a polite smile. “Yes. Yes I am.” Mrs bolted outside, from where I could hear her hysterical laughter. A delighted belly rub from the cashier later I joined her back in the car with our faux bath towels.
We spent the rest of the day playing cards inside the tent. Despite trying to remain upbeat, the incessant rain was starting to get to us. By that afternoon we had been reduced to straight-jacket territory. Tiny drops of water that had finally made it through the waterproofing were now running down the inside of the tent and became the source of uncontrolled giggling. Exhaustion had clearly set in when we had absolutely zero reaction to being joined in the tent by a toad (whom we promptly named Teddy). With our hopes of visiting the Kruger Park all but washed downriver, Teddy became the only wildlife we encountered.
It was getting dark again by the time our trusty pack of “Bicycles” had started to curl and split along the edges. We thought a change of scenery and hot meal would fortify our resolve, so we made our way to the canteen. A massive plate of tongue-scalding lasagne and a goblet of red wine did just the trick. Alas, our lifted spirits did not last long as the heavens opened again and loud cracks of thunder signalled the destruction of each planned activity one by one.
Monday morning could not come soon enough. The weather had officially beaten us and we had decided to throw in the… well… the nappy, I suppose? In the pouring rain we threw what we could back into the car. The gazebo did not make the cut. We left its crumpled carcass in Sabie as a monument to our failed attempt at getting out of Johannesburg for New Years’ Eve. Doped up on Red Bull, we drove home in silence. And for those who might be wondering, the answer is “yes” – the drive back was highway all the way!