let’s go camping, they said

Husband and I planned a very last minute camping trip to Mkhuze game reserve over the long weekend in April. I used to camp a lot growing up, with my family, but once I left the nest, our camping skills haven’t really been put to the test – we were the adults now in charge.

We really wanted to take our new toy (the suzuki jimny) off road and into the bush to see what she can do. So we started planning. We had our meals planned out, checklists, booking forms etc.Usually when we go away we stay over at the husband’s brother’s place the first night as that takes a good hour off our trip. Come Friday night, the car is packed, and we are ready to go. Or so we thought.

First off I should mention, that the husband is still warming up to our new toy. So when the car was packed full to the brim with just two night’s camping stuff for two people, he was less than impressed. Not a good start. So off we go. When we reached La Lucia, I realised I had forgotten all forms of sharp knives. Nothing to cut the massive butternut with, for our potjie. All we had, was a tiny blunt butter knife. A little further on, husband realised that we forgot our cheese, for our cheese and wine lunch we had planned. Not a worry, we popped over to woolies and that problem got sorted out quickly. When we reached Ballito, a sudden shock was sent over my body. We forgot all our bedding!! (I use the word ‘we’ very loosely) Ok, not a problem, we are heading over to husband’s brothers place – they can help us. We decided to stop at one of the restaurants in Ballito to have a little dinner and a nice glass of wine. Just to get over all the things that are going wrong so far. We sit down, and I order some wine. I run back to the car as the wind has picked up and the air has become rather chilly. As i open the back door, out come our wine, smashing into the parking lot. This is not good. I pick up all the broken glass, cutting my hand in the process, but luckily not too bad. I get back to the table and husband immediately knew something was up. I told him what happened, and we both just started laughing. We could still turn back and go home. But we had a bigger goal in mind – Botswana. We needed to see what level our camping skills are for our big Botswana trip. Well let’s just say Botswana won’t be seeing us any time soon.

The next day we set off nice and early.

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The weather was terrible, but I love the cold weather, and welcomed it with open arms and warm hugs. Not realising the betrayal coming my way. As we arrived at our campsite, the weather took a turn for the worse. Also, by now we have also realised that we forgot our chairs as well as a braai grid. We try put our tent up, but as we get one peg in, the other one comes popping out. This went on for a good hour, and eventually we got our tent up. Frustrated, dirty and exhausted, we took a nice slow drive through the game reserve. Only to come back a few hours later to discover half our tent had collapsed.

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before all the shit happened

Right, tent fixed up again. The weather can’t quite make up its mind, toying with our emotions. Should we braai (minus the braai grid) or should I make us some sandwhiches? We went for a quick shower and noticed that the weather has completely calmed down. Excellent! We get the braai going, I pour us some wine (new wine, of course) and just as we settled in (standing, we have no chairs) the wind picked up again. We eventually got some meat and mielies going on the paella pan (full of rust) when torrential rains came bursting from the clouds. We decided to wait it out. Everything is cooking already, let’s just wait it out. To cut a long story short, let’s just say the chicken ended up half raw in the dustbin, the mielies were full of ash, and the only thing left that was edible, were our sweet potatoes. We were drenched, i mean d-r-e-n-c-h-e-d, and freezing cold. We went to bed with no food. Only to realise our tent is now leaking. The blanket we had provided very little warmth and husband and I were literally freezing to death that night.

By the next day, we have had enough. We decided to leave the tent to dry, take a drive through the park again, come back, pack up and get the hell out of there. Camping is shit. However, the next day turned out to be a spectacular day so we decided to stay. I’m glad we did. We made a delicious potjie (using scissors to cut our vegetables, in case you were wondering), had our cheese and wine for lunch, continued drinking wine for the rest of the evening, and went to bed dry, but still freezing cold.

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That was one helluva experience, one I’m glad i get laugh at now and definitely learned a lot of lessons from. Don’t ever go camping. Just safari tent ok.

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