In the jungle, the mighty jungle …

When  you  have  a  “strange”  accent,  people  tend  to  ask  where  you  come  from.      When I say I’m from South Africa, some look at me in wonder and ask about the wild animals roaming free on the streets, monkeys swinging from branch to branch in  the gardens, you get the picture? I can somehow understand this kind of thinking back in the day but in today’s day and age surely most people know that wild animals are either  confined to game parks or zoos or they roam in remote areas where people don’t live for the most part.  In the mountainous area about 100 kilometers from where I lived, we had loads of baboons. On our recent trip to South Africa, on our way to visit friends, we encountered a troop and stopped to take some pictures. They can be vicious, and I will never get out of the car. Even the odd cheetah or leopard can make an appearance, but this isn’t the norm.

Maybe foreigners think South Africa is a little wild because…

* a herd of zebras was spotted hanging around near a zebra crossing in a remote village (the village is surrounded by natural habitat for zebras so it happens occasionally and the zebra crossing was the cherry on the cake)

* monkey business thrives on the outskirts of some towns … the natural habitat makes it a popular place to observe the humans leaving open their doors and windows, tempting bowls of fruit inside – especially bananas, of course.  So let’s swing by for dinner, and swing right out again. 😀

Snakes you encounter everywhere in the world.  The only variance is how venomous they are in some areas and on the farm where I lived, my dogs often found a cobra or a mamba while sniffing around.  Snakes mostly attack when they feel threatened, so when the dogs retreated so did the snakes.  Thank goodness none of the dogs ever got bitten.  And needless to say, one didn’t often venture near their preferred area of living in the fields with  bushes and shrubs, etc.

We have poisonous spiders (same as every other country) and I got bit by one (a violin spider) about 25 years ago. A tiny red bump on my ankle.  First day it was itching a bit, next day the bump changed to a red inflamed swelling that was burning.  Third day, streaks of red ran up my leg and I was in hospital.  I was there for 6 days and nearly lost my leg.  I received three IV drips per day to flush out the poison.  The skin on my entire leg changed from red to purple and black.  It swelled to almost three times the size as normal.  The pain was excruciating.  But I survived.  I still have scars where the poison killed some skin tissue.  But I’ll take scars over no leg any day.

I’ve had close encounters with elephants,  tigers and rhinos.  But these encounters were in controlled situations in game parks.  I have friends who live about 2 hours’ drive from where I lived and there was a game farm next to their farm.  How can one forget sitting on the deck, sunset on the horizon, the braai (bbq) fire going, and listening to an elephant saying “hello” by trumpeting loudly in the distance …

Meanwhile back at the ranch in Upstate New York, USA I’ve had more wild animals traipsing through my backyard than I’ve ever encountered back in South Africa.  Possum, raccoon, fox, deer, chipmunk (I’ve never seen a chipmunk till I came here), squirrel,  rabbit, skunk…  and yes, a lion too!!  What, a lion? You may ask.  His name is Simba.  I even have a picture of him.  OK, so that’s my very furry cat who gets a lion cut every summer. 😀 But hey, I have to live up to my reputation as the “wild woman from Africa” (and all that goes with it), right? 😉


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