And so, like all good things, my time at IPR came to an end. Early Saturday morning, I bid a fond farewell and boarded a bus to Nelspruit.
One thing that caught me completely by surprise was just how much I would miss IPR - the people and the monkeys. I knew I would to some degree but by Sunday, I felt completely lost without Chino and co. I found myself looking through my pictures but honestly, none of them truly capture the place for me.
But back to the trip...
After a brief stop at a motorway service station, complete with rhino in a small preserve (take that British services!), we drove through an increasingly beautiful area of gorges, tiny historic towns, and greenery on our way to Nelspruit. Apparently this area is quite full of history - steam trains, gold mines, rumored lost gold, and so on.
I checked into the Old Vic, met by a woman named Happiness, who seemed anything but at the time. To be fair, I later found out that she is due to give birth any time now and she was much friendlier the next day. Saturday was incredibly hot, as I discovered during the 40 minute (each way) walk to the supermarket. However, despite warnings of the higher temperatures, the weather has actually been much cooler here. Yesterday and today are comfortably warm but overcast, tropical perhaps.
Yesterday, I was going to walk to the nature preserve but lodge owner Dave warned me that as a single woman, it might be a little risky. Instead he suggested the Botanic Gardens so I took a taxi and spent a gorgeous day there, enjoying spectacular scenery of the waterfalls and the Crocodile River, lots of South African flora, and even a little wildlife (one mongoose and a group of vervet monkeys).
As a quick postscript, I should mention how much fun the taxi rides are, for the simple fact that you never know who else you'll be riding with or quite how long it will take you to get anywhere. Yesterday, when Ben came to pick me up at a prearranged time from the Botanic Gardens, he already had one other passenger. We then did a detour to a local school, where there had been some sort of picnic, to pick up a mother and child. The more the merrier!