Monte Casino to Pilansberg!


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After a seriously acrimonious split between the farmer and both Kobus and I, we packed up once again and left the farm.  Thankfully we managed to rent the property in which we lived for the short while before moving to the farm again.  Walking in on the Thursday between Christmas and New Year, I sighed a huge sigh of relief – I hated the farm and the farm life!!!  Kobus and I had a long chat and we realized that notwithstanding the fact that I love my farmer husband to bits and pieces, I was not your typical farmer’s wife.

So yes, our Festive period was rather filled with huge buckets of stress.  I tried to make Christmas day at least resemble a good ol’ family day, with a delicious roast leg of lamb and my speciality, a cherry and pineapple-ring adorned Christmas ham with all the trimmings like roast potatoes and tasty veggies. Unfortunately we devoured the trifle completely the day before already, but just as well, as justice was done to the good food.

Big dent in delicious food

Big dent in delicious food

We finished packing the next day and left early the day after.  By 10 am we were in town.  No jobs, no idea about what the future holds, sad to know that half the town’s folk were off on holiday to some exotic place like our neigbouring country, Mozambique, but nevertheless counting our blessings to have our two older boys with us, a lovely home to stay in, wonderful encounters with the Heilbron inhabitants we met everywhere, from the furniture store owners to the doctor etc.

Kobus and I decided to make use of the opportunity to have our two boys as house / pet-sitters for the weekend before New Year, and took my cousin up on her offer to spend a few days at her lovely, peaceful home in Fourways Gardens, Johannesburg – as per her “to put some distance between us and the horrid circumstances” we had just left.

So we made our way to Johannesburg late on Thursday afternoon, after simply off-loading our belongings and making beds for the kids, making sure they had enough food for a few days.  We spent Friday lazing around the lovely house and pool area, and as I still had a spa voucher I got about a year ago, we located the nearest suitable spa around us, with the idea to get a soothing massage for our aching bodies after lifting and carrying furniture and boxes for days.  Around 6 pm we headed to the Monte Casino complex and announced ourselves to our two masseuses eagerly – if only we knew what lay in store for us!!

Balloon seller at Monte Casino

Balloon seller at Monte Casino

The minute the little Thai masseuse jumped on my bed to straddle my body, I sensed discomfort.  At this stage it was simply a mental discomfort as I’ve never had any stranger so close to my body, but within seconds the discomfort emanated from her firm hands pushing against knots too numerous to count – from my lower back straight up to my neck!  I moaned in agony, but with each moan it seemed she was hell-bent on just increasing her pressure.  Where she gets the strength from in those little hands heaven alone knows!  The next hour was a teeth-gritting battle between wanting to tell her to get lost, and that I would never pay to be tortured like that, or trying to tell myself that the end result would be worth it.  The fact that Kobus did not utter a sound next to me, made me think that I am just a sissy, so I persevered.  By the time they finished with us, we were totally finished as well.  Kobus lay there muttering that for his first massage it may just as well be his last as well, as he nearly died with pain.  We picked our weary, sore bodies off the bed, reluctantly paid the difference between the voucher and the charge, and painfully slowly walked out into the casino complex.

We went and washed down some of the pain with a glass of vino each, and I had a superb blue-cheese salad, whilst Kobus had a coronation chicken salad at Coco Bongo Restaurant, an old favourite of mine from when I used to meet my Johannesburg then-based best friends there for dinner on my business-trips once a year.  We spent the rest of the evening strolling around the complex, marveling at the delightful architecture, lights and sounds of the casino and the gamblers before we sank into our bed around midnight – both very aware that our bodies now seemed to feel like floating butterflies.  The effects of the massages obviously set in.

Next morning we set off on a loose limb, en route to my most favourite place in South Africa, The Pilansberg National Park, in search of some game.  Coming from one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, I am spoilt for choice of scenery, but give me even just one day in the Pilansberg, and my batteries are charged for many moons thereafter.  Being the Festive time of year, accommodation for us was proving a problem, and after numerous calls to Sun City, Bakubung, Kwa Maritane and many surrounding resorts and guest-houses along the way and around the Park, we settled for “Plan B”, which is to enter the Sun City gates, park our car in the vast parking lot and simply sleep there for the night before setting off on a day’s game drive the next day.  We were also on a shoe-string budget, in view of our uncertain future, and this seemed to be a good option.  We stopped at Hartebeespoort Dam market to share the best-cooked Eisbein I’ve ever had in my life, washed down with a cold beer, before continuing.

Once we got to the Sun City entrance, I asked Kobus to continue to the small town of Ledig, just outside the entrance gate to Bakubung resort in the Pilansberg.  I wanted to go and have a sundowner at Bakubung, hoping that “Twiggy”, the resident hippo will show her face, as Kobus had never been.  The resort lies around a watering hole in a horse-shoe shape, and my kids and I have spent many a wonderful holiday there.  Twiggy is a regular visitor at dusk and a wooden replica of her graces the entrance to the reception at the resort.  Passing through Ledig, a neat signboard announcing “Kopano Bed and Breakfast” caught my eye, and although it lies slap-bang in the middle of a rural, mostly-black owned town, we wished for a bed for the night and took the turn-off onto the dirt road past some small home-steads, only to find the most wonderfully neat, warm and upmarket B&B.  And to top it all, the owner himself gave us a guided tour and informed us of his plans to expand.  Tina, the house-keeper promised to make us a sandwich after our return from sundowners at Bakubung – that’s all we could manage even after sharing the Eisbein at lunchtime – it was huge!

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Twiggy did not disappoint – she made her grand entrance as Kobus and I were sipping Mango cocktails, and us, plus most of the holiday-makers at the resort, swarmed to the fence to get a better vantage point of this huge creature.  She nonchalantly continued her grazing, even under the continuous spotlight of camera-flashes, much to the overseas tourists’ delight.  We left satisfied.  Back at Kopana, Tina had made us the most delicious Dag-wood sandwich, and after a refreshing shower we climbed between crisp white sheets to dreamland for the night.

Early the next morning, we left with eager anticipation of a good day’s game viewing lying ahead, and believe you me, we were not disappointed!  I will not ramble on more, other than to say, that even the King of the Jungle, Mr Lion himself, graced our day with his presence – thanks to my animal behavior-wise husband, who noticed some Wildebeest staring and sniffing in one direction.  We promptly drove up the hill towards the area they were looking at, and voila! – there he was in all his glory, and my adrenalin pumped almost out my skin being able to photograph him at such close distance.  The road we were on led us to Kwa Maritane, the sister resort of Bakubung, and we mischievously managed to sneak in a swim in their pool which is reserved for resort guests only, and continued our day’s game  viewing feeling much more refreshed afterwards.

We ended the day in the look-out over the biggest dam in the Park, where I have spent many many hours on previous visits, and were thoroughly entertained by game coming down to drink late afternoon, as well as hippos fighting for territory right under our noses.  The birds were delightful, the views splendid and our souls restored.  We set off back home; stopping for that delicious shared Eisbein once again, slept in my beloved cousin’s home that night and went “home” to Heilbron with more joie de vivre the next day.

We have since settled more, we have some options, we still love each other madly, our first wedding anniversary around the corner, and we count our blessings every day.

To all my friends, family and readers who have taken the time to read thus far – May 2013 bring you great joy and happiness.

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About suletta

Fell in love again at age 50! And followed my man to Zanzibar, for him to set up a dairy farm. I managed to travel into Africa a few times in my life, always loving it and experience the "fever" that grips you on African soil - the one that especially the Europeans now and in years gone by, suffer from. Except I am an African by birth - a South African. A Mzungu.So I discovered at this late stage in my life (not that I feel old!) that some people find my babblings about life interesting, and I quote: "live their lives vicariously through me".
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One Response to Monte Casino to Pilansberg!

  1. danniehill says:

    Good things are coming your way, Suletta.

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