Day 1: Durban to Hluhluwe
We left early for Breakfast at Delish Sisters in Salt Rock. Its located in a Litchi Orchard and the fruit were ripening on the high branches. After an excellent breakfast we headed up the north coast and stopped at Inseleni for a mushroom check. Dad showed me some spots where he had seen fungi in wetter times. We found a few which I found extremely interesting and unfamiliar:
Small orange ones (they look the color of witches butter but are firm and more branched).
Fuzzy capped stipeless.
Large spongely-fibrous mushrooms.
Similar to turkey tails...
Natal is in a serious drought. We crossed the Umfolozi River which was completely dry but for a deep channel that had been excavated to keep water accessible to locals. At the Nyalazi gate the weavers were nesting - making loops of grass in a tree in a cacophony of chirruping and trilling. Male and female pairs were working together to weave the balled nests with long channel corridor. Males demonstrated with fluffing and bobbing, jutting their wings out in display.
“They have a serious weaver infestation here” said Lanny, as Wren and I were marvelling at them.
Driving to the bush camp we were lucky enough to see a pair of african wild dogs on the road. They were much larger than you’d expect, with long legs and big ears. We also saw giraffe, Nyala, Impala, Zebra and a number of white rhino.
Dinner was a strange affair. The cook was either stoned or drunk and forgot to cook half the chicken and all the potatoes. Ingrid had to come to the rescue and save the day. The energy saving lighting is so dim that a single cone of normal light is suspended over one chair in the 20 foot square dining room. The poor souls sitting under this cone of light are constantly assaulted by swooping moths with soft heavy bodies and clawing feet that dive and fall on them then clamber up the body and fly off. Wren was this soul and quickly developed a fear of moths, sitting in place starting at the light trying to track the next attack. I told him not to bother and that moths were fine, until a hawk moth flew from my leg into my face and, involuntarily, I screamed. This rather validated Wren’s perspective!
Pete was also not too keen on the moths but handled his concerns - having a greater fear of spiders, cockroaches and scorpions. After a while sharing “spider alert” stories - including one in which Peter and Lanny found a tarantula inside their mosquito net in Guatemala, Wren moved seats and sat in darkness, crying occasionally that he wanted to go “to our room to get away from the moths". This calmed eventually as the attacks lessened - until Pete yelled “Scorpion” and ran to the other side of the room. There was a 5 inch long scorpion with huge pincers sitting on floor in dining room dark. Wren stood on a chair while it scuttled around. Dad pursued it and swept it into the next room where it vanished into the large gaps between the floorboards.
The cook said “They are all over camp but they live under the house”. The next morning he was vigorous in his sweeping.
Waking in the night the bamboo shutters were vibrating in the wind which sucked and heaved, blowing rain against the glass.