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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Saltzman

Sept. 17 – Grandma (almost) got run over by WHAT???

Berg-en-Dahl was more liberal than the other camps and was willing to take a chance allowing two old ladies – Judy and me – to participate in the morning bush walk. We set the alarm for 4:45, but both of us were up early because with anticipation. We arrived at the appointed meeting place to meet our guides. There were five other explorers:  a young couple from Pretoria, SA; two other “old” folks from the UK; and a guy from Perth, Australia. Our guides/guards were armed with rifles and warnings that we must be prepared to run if necessary. After hearing the rules, we set out on our adventure. The young South African woman looked tentative and nervous. But the walk into the bush was uneventful – a hyena stopped in the distance to look us over and then went on his way; the ubiquitous herd of impalas ran through the trees; a giraffe and some kudu were barely visible in the distance. The guides stopped occasionally to show us tracks, scat and skeletons.

After an hour, we stopped on some rocks for a snack fit for a teenager – American cheese, crackers, cheese doodles, juice boxes, chocolate and biltbong (South Africa’s own jerky.) After posing for some photos, we headed back to the Jeep. The guide stopped to tell us about the anise plant and other vegetation. Suddenly, two rhinos appeared in the bush just a short distance ahead of us. The guides motioned for us to stop and be still. We all quietly and carefully took photos. After the rhinoceroses ambled on, we started walking. In the blink of an eye, the two turned around and started charging toward us. The guide ordered us to gather behind a boulder – actually a rock that was about half my height that provided little cover and less comfort. When the rhinos were a mere 20 yards away, they finally responded to our guides’ yells and ran into the bush. We took a collective sigh of relief and finished our walk in silence.

I asked the guide if he had ever had to use his gun on an animal.  “Too much paperwork,” he replied.

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