Some of the People that we Met...
The principal staff members that we met at each of the lodges during this trip turned out to be one of the more delightful aspects of the trip. All of them were competent, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable and every one of them had an excellent sense of humor. Obviously, a tourist oriented economic operation has an interest in staffing their enterprise with these kinds of people, but, as we all know, not every such operation manages to pull it off. From our point of view, the most important people were the rangers and the trackers because we interacted with them very directly for several hours every day, but we inevitably also interacted with a number of the support staff at each of the lodges and we benefited greatly from many that we never met. We made a point of meeting the managers at each facility and were impressed by their quiet competence, good humor, and willingness to do whatever they could to make our stay enjoyable.
We also found the guests at these lodges to be an interesting international mix. There were, of course, a few fellow American travelers, a sprinkling of Europeans, and, to our great delight, a number of South Africans. We particularly tried to get to know the South Africans in an effort to learn a bit more about the country that we were visiting. They were a fascinating melange of different ethnic backgrounds reflecting the complicated history of the country. All were obviously from upper economic circles within the country and conversations with them provided counterpoint to the discussions that we had with our drivers and porters. Although all of these conversations reflected some trepidation about the political future of South Africa, it was but little more than what many Americans feel about what is going on in our own country. Most were cautiously optimistic and one elderly gentleman explained that "we have at least eliminated the anger in the eyes."
Once again, I note that we were in South Africa for only nine days and we spent most of our time in a vehicle looking at wildlife in the middle of the bush. I fully understand that we are not experts on much of anything - let alone the politics of South Africa. I can only tell you that we had a wonderful time and found the people of the country to be as attractive as the landscape and the flora and the fauna.
P.S. Although we met many fascinating people during this trip, I have to single out one particular couple as being rare and exotic in myriad ways. A rather striking young ethnic Chinese gentleman partnered with a beautiful young ethnic Indian lady. I have no idea what kind of passports they carry nor what they call their relationship, but they are very obviously enamored of one another. The gentleman speaks fluent American english and the lady speaks fluent British english. Both were superbly educated and both have a wonderful sense of humor firmly embedded in the marrow of their bones. During the three days that we were together, I remember no single sentence that either of them uttered that failed to elicit laughter. Our good fortune in meeting them is one more reason why this trip will go down as one of our very best.