There were no places to buy food in the game reserve so we had to head back to St. Lucia, an hour's drive, so Dear Hubby could have lunch...skipping a meal is simply not acceptable when you are diabetic. En route back to the Nyalazi Gate, entrance to the reserve, we found ourselves cresting a hill and seeing two vehicles pulled to the side of the road at the base of the hill. Obviously they were observing something, so we approached slowly, on the alert. Just as we pulled level with the other cars I spotted a small group of elephants clustered under some trees. Hubby pulled the car to a stop as I put the window down and stuck the camera out the window. Unfortunately, as I did so, this guy swung his head in our direction and began to fidget his front feet and bob his head. With Gavin's story about the park employees killed by elephant still fresh in my mind and this guy starting to advance on the car, I hurriedly snapped this shot and Hubby got us quickly away.
We came across several groups of rhino, this one being the closest to the road. For some strange reason, none of the pictures we got of any of the rhino showed their upper lips, so we were unable to determine if they were white rhino or black. Before this trip I had expected that we would find the rhino dangerous and the elephants calm...surprising that I found it to be just the opposite, the rhino quietly grazing by the side of the road but the elephant threatening.
We returned to St. Lucia and grabbed lunch, then headed for the local open-air market, located in a huge boma beneath the most beautiful vlamboom (flame tree). Beneath the shade of the boma were the fresh fruit and veg vendors, their tables a colourful mélange of pineapples and mangoes, pawpaws and bananas, tomatoes bursting with ripe freshness. In front of the boma, under the spreading branches of the vlamboom, were the curio sellers. Woven grass beach mats, hats and tote bags, hand carved representations of local birds and other wildlife, lengths of hand-dyed fabric, rag rugs, and at one end of the line up, a stunning hand-hewn three legged table.
We had had lunch the previous day in a restaurant called Für Elize, a place that seemed to specialize in crocodile dishes. While awaiting our meal (fast, efficient service not being one of the hallmarks of this establishment in particular and St. Lucia in general), I studied the structure of the boma in which the restaurant was located and the décor, most of which was of local origin. It was here that I saw one of these tables, a charming blend of European lines and African originality. Unfortunately, none of the curio stands we saw during our travels exhibited such a table, but on this particular visit to the open air market, we spotted one and, after a bit of negotiating (Hubby is a great haggler!) the table was mine for only R150! ($25). It now sits in my hallway, supporting my Ardmore pot...which we picked up at the Ardmore pottery in the Midlands...and a frothy little house palm.
The morning we left St. Lucia the temperature was 30C as we loaded the car. We were on the road back to Durban by 9 am, retracing our steps through the sugar estates, our first leg of the long journey home.