2017 Women's Soccer Trip to South Africa
Day 7 Blog
Junior · Midfielder
Castle Rock, Colo. / Douglas County
Thankfully, this morning we were able to sleep in a bit longer and spend a little extra time souvenir shopping down at the Waterfront. As a few of us put all those "six-corner" workouts to use sprinting back to meet the bus, we loaded our luggage and eventually all headed out of Cape Town towards the Aquila Private Game Reserve. The bus ride was, as always, spent singing along with the jambox and taking turns playing the "Heads up" app.
After about two hours we arrived at the reserve and went straight to lunch where a whole selection of both familiar and unfamiliar foods were served buffet style. We were then finally able to check into our two-person rooms (which were really more like little cabins) complete with even an outdoor shower! Many of us immediately changed into our bathing suits and headed to the beautiful pool overlooking the rest of the game reserve.
After some fun cooling off from the African sun, it was finally time for our first safari drive into the reserve. We were split into two large, open-air vehicles. My car's guide was Freddy, whose knowledge about the reserve, its wildlife, and even its dung were unmatchable. His driving skills were also incredibly appreciated as he was able to get us up close and personal to nearly every group of animals we came across. By the end of the safari we had seen four of "The Big 5", which are the 5 major African game animals and named such because they are the most difficult African animals to hunt on foot. These five include the Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, African elephant, African lion, and African leopard. The only one we were not able to see this trip was the leopard, but Freddy reassured us that tomorrow morning there would be a chance to hopefully see giraffes and possibly a leopard on our second trip out. On this first trip we were also able to see plenty of springbok, elands, jackrabbits, wildebeests, ostriches, hippos, and zebras, all of which we were able to get within just a few meters of. Since the animals have grown used to the vehicles and all of us stayed reasonably quiet, several of the animals came up very close to the car, which allowed for awesome photos. Zebras were definitely the most prevalent larger animal on our tour, though. One zebra was especially friendly to our vehicle, and I think even gave Coach Tiff a little remorseful déjà vu. Nevertheless, zebras are still not in the "Big 5" despite their vast numbers and surprising size… Overall, the rhinos, elephants, and lions (my personal favorite) were certainly some of the favorites across the vehicle, but we're very much looking forward to tomorrow's (hopeful) sighting of giraffes!
After returning to the lodge, we cleaned up and headed for our last South African supper as Team 32. The meal was delicious and full of laughter as we tried to forget the soon coming end of this great adventure. There were speeches of thanks, love, and farewell to this year's unforgettable seniors. However, overpowering the sadness of goodbye was the ever present hope for the younger players, the upcoming spring and fall seasons of 2017, and Team 33.
P.S. And in case that ending made anyone sad….Neha and I went back to our room after dinner to change. While attempting to find a rather small spider that Neha swatted from the ceiling to the curtains, we were surprised by a yellow spider the size of a fist jumping onto our glass door. Luckily, it was on the outside, but nevertheless this surprise was followed by piercing screams heard all across the reserve and me spraying our entire cabin (quite literally) and myself head-to-toe in bug spray. I think I'd rather be sleeping with the lions tonight…