20 Mar That One Time I Went to South Africa- Lions, Patron Bottles and Boiling Hot Showers
We have made it to the third and final part of my Travel to Africa story. I hope you enjoyed my adventure as much I enjoyed sharing it with you all!
Now it was time for the white wedding. We left Nigeria to head to Johannesburg, South Africa on New Year’s Eve. A lot of family that was supposed to be flying with us were not granted visas in time for the wedding, so it was pretty empty flight. We boarded the flight at 11 pm. I was a little bummed because I was going to be on a plane for the New Year; not throwing back tequila shots and downing frozen grapes with my sisters like I normally do. However, my frown got turned upside down when the most incredible flight attendant in the world, Fernando, started passing out free bottles of vodka and wine. Did we just become best friends? YUP!
When we arrived at the airport, the first thing I noticed was all of the Safari advertisements. I am a big time animal lover, so I basically I had just walked into a dream. What I saw next confirmed that I was indeed in heaven- a ten–foot-tall elephant statue in the airport lobby. Hold the f*ckin’ phone. Ya’ll got elephants? I am COMPLETELY obsessed with all things elephants and my biggest dream in the entire world was to touch one. So, naturally, I made it my mission to do so.
Side note: I once asked Dayo to buy me an elephant for my birthday, he laughed and walked away. We’ve had marital problems ever since.
At this point, all I knew about South Africa was Nelson Mandela, the abolishment of apartheid and the Disney Channel original movie, The Color of Friendship (PS – That was my shit). It’s safe to say I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. But I kept an open mind because I had just been pleasantly surprised in Nigeria and was hoping to be equally enlightened in South Africa as well.
Let me start by stating that Johannesburg is gorgeous. The first word that comes to mind is pristine because it is like the cleanest place I’ve ever been. The roads/landscaping/buildings are meticulously well-kept and most buildings, at least in Johannesburg, are all surrounded by tall gates. At the time that we visited, most people were on holiday, so the streets were pretty much empty and gave off a 28 Days Later/Zombie apocalypse vibe. Personally, I prefer a less crowded area, so this was just fine with me.
For the white wedding you can wear any attire you choose. No pointy boob outfits to worry about this time! *wipes forehead* (click here to read all about my pointy boob dress) I had purchased a cute little dress back home and was set.
The wedding was the next day so we had some time to kill. We went to eat at an incredible restaurant inside of this beautiful, luxury hotel. When we walked in we were the only black people there. There were plenty of other races (Middle Eastern, Asian, White), but other than the wait staff, we were the only black people. When we walked in to be seated the waiters looked astonished to see us. We also were not seated near the other groups of people- they sat us off to the corner. Normally, I would’ve totally made it a point to address the issue. However, my fear of being arrested in a foreign country made me sit my little happy ass down.
You know how the black people were acting on the movie Get Out when the family was hosting that barbecue? That’s how the waiters were. One waiter accidentally knocked my coffee over (so a bit spilled out on the table) and she freaked out. I assured her that it was no problem at all, but she was so overwhelmed that someone else came and took over for her until she got herself together. It was bizarre.
The brunch buffet had a ton of South African dishes. Coiled shaped sausage called Boerewors and this minced meat dish that was topped with a thick cream and dried fruits were one of their premiere dishes. I bypassed all the unknown items and went straight to the bacon (sometimes you just gotta stick to what you know). Although I try to be adventurous when it comes to food, I hadn’t had anything close to American food in a week, so I had to indulge.
When we had finished our meals, my father-in-law took care of the bill and left a 20% tip like we are accustomed to in the States. The bill was $125, so the tip was around $25. When the waiter came to get his tip, tears came to his eyes and he shook my father-in-law’s hand. He ran over to the other waiters to show them the tip and they all gasped and hugged him. When I saw how grateful he was for the tip, I took $15 over to the girl that spilled the tea. She lost it big time. You never know how you can positively impact someone’s life. $15 may be chump change to me, but obviously it meant way more than that to her.
Side note- Everywhere else in Johannesburg was lovely. It was only this one establishment that gave off weird vibes.
The day of the wedding went so much smoother than the day of the engagement ceremony. The wedding didn’t take place until the evening, so we decided to kill time at a nearby mall. Inside the mall I found a hair salon and had a woman from Zimbabwe straighten my hair. When I was seated and began speaking, everyone noticed I was American and gathered around me. They asked a ton of questions about America- our music, our food, the culture. You know, good questions to get a better idea of the American life. Then, it was time for me to ask a question and you know what my ignorant ass said? “Have you guys ever seen the Disney Channel Original Movie, The Color of Friendship?” Oh Lord. I have got to do better.
After I was done at the salon, we still had a couple of hours, so we headed over to the Mandela house. The actual house Nelson Mandela lived in. I had done a whopping four elementary school reports on Mandela, so I knew a thing or two about this great human being. It was surreal to be walking in the same halls as this incredible man. A lot of his original home items were still there including his bed and a few letters his wife wrote him. I will forever be grateful for that experience.
Let’s fast forward to the wedding. The wedding was smaller than the engagement ceremony, but just as gorgeous. The wedding ceremony tends to be smaller and more intimate because only immediate family and very close friends are invited. It was a wonderful event, the bride looked stunning and the food and drinks were everything. By the end of the night, I was exhausted and thought we would be heading home. We were visiting the safari the next day, after all.
I was wrong. We left the wedding, got in our car and the driver took us to a hotel. We entered the hotel and walked down a flight of steps. The further we went, the louder the music got. When we got to the bottom of the stairwell I saw a bouncer, a money collector and a coat check. We were at a club. Welp… there goes my good night’s rest.
When we got inside, they took us to a private area in the back. We had around 30 people in our entourage, so we fit the space pretty nicely. I headed over to the bar, in typical Katryce fashion, but was stopped by Dayo. “My cousin already ordered drinks for everyone,” he said. I really had my heart set on a Titos and Cranberry, but I held out and waited for the drinks. All of the sudden a woman comes out blowing a giant whistle with multiple bottles of Hennessey on a cart. Each bottle was open and had a straw inside. Dear, God. This man had purchased everyone their own bottle of Hennessey. I then noticed there was one lone bottle of tequila adorned with a straw as well. That bottle was handed to me. I guess because I am half-Mexican he assumed I would prefer Patron. He was right.
I do love tequila.
About 25 minutes into the dancing and partying, I’m pretty fucked up as I’m sure you can imagine. I’m stumbling everywhere, dancing all over the place, and just make a damn fool of myself. I had to pee, so I stumbled to bathroom. I brushed against a girl washing her hands and said “excuse me.” She looks at me and says, “Wait. Are you American?” Next thing I know, she and I are sitting on the floor of the restroom sharing stories about our childhood and our favorite foods. Every time a friend of hers would come in looking for her she would say “Guys! She’s American!” and I would respond with “Have you guys ever seen the Disney Channel Original Movie, The Color of Friendship?” *sigh*
I finally headed back over to the party, but I decided to bring my new besties with me. I gave them Patron shots, took selfies, and we danced on tables. If you didn’t know us, you would think that we had known each other our entire lives. It was everything! Dayo tried to get me off the table (he’s the mayor of Snoozeville), but his family members told him he was being a buzz kill so he chilled. I KNEW he would beef me over this in the morning, but I didn’t give a shit. Besides, this is the first time since Dayo and I had met that he had seen me this drunk (click here to read about how we met), so I got a pass.
The next morning, I got up early to take a shower and get dressed. The night before I somehow remembered to drink hella water and scarf down a ton of bread, so I wasn’t really hungover. I brushed my teeth and started the shower. Thank God I tested the water before I got in, because it was scorching hot. Dayo woke up pissed at me because I got too drunk around his family. Mind you, the whole group of us were pretty shit faced, so I didn’t see the harm. Rather than feed into him, I just kept my cool and pretended I didn’t notice him while I got dressed. Besides, we were about to go on a safari, so I couldn’t give two fucks about the night before.
Let me explain why this next part of the story is so important. My husband is like the coolest man in America and walks very slowly to ensure that he doesn’t misstep, trip and fall. In the 7+ years we’ve been together, I’ve only seen him stumble/fall once. And it took place in South Africa.
And it was glorious.
Dayo turned on the shower and proceeded to brush his teeth while waiting for the water to warm up. I’m now sitting on the edge of the bed, facing the bathroom and putting lotion my legs. Before Dayo got in the shower, he looked at me with a face of pure irritation and stepped into the shower. 1.5 seconds later Dayo yells “FUUUCCKKKK!”, kicks the shower door open, trips over the shower ledge and slides across the bathroom floor. Butt ass naked. This bozo didn’t check the water temperature before he got in.
To make matters worse, he tried to stand up quickly and to play it off, but he lost his balance on the wet floor, wiggled around like a fish out of water for about 10 seconds and landed again on his bare ass. It was literally the funniest thing I had ever seen in my entire life, but since he was already mad at me, I attempted to hold back my laughter in fear that laughing would take this beef to a whole new level. Besides, I hadn’t even checked to see if he was ok.
I took a deep breath and tried to think of something sad to calm the terrible case of the giggles I felt brewing in my stomach. I stood up and slowly walked over to him. I had all intentions of making sure he was okay, but when he stood up and started massaging his ass cheek, I lost it big time. I was in tears. He tried to be mad, but he started laughing too. We sat on the bathroom floor that morning laughing for 30 minutes about how he had just bust his ass- literally.
From the moment I saw the elephant statue in the airport, I pestered everyone about seeing elephants. That was my only request for this portion of the trip. Problem was, the elephant reserve was on the other side of South Africa. Oh and everyone wanted to see the lions, so I was outvoted. I cried. No guys, I literally cried. All my life I have wanted to touch an elephant and just be in the presence of one. This was the closest I would ever be to making my dream come true and it wasn’t going to happen. I was devastated.
I finally got over it. My overall love of animals pushed past my devastation. I was going to be able to see some pretty incredible creatures up close after all. The same creatures I would spend hours watching on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel as a child. So even though I was royally bummed, I considered it a win.
Funny thing about seeing animals on TV and then actually seeing them in person is that from the safety of your own home, lions and cheetahs are actually pretty cute. But as we were driving from our hotel to the Safari, my brain got to thinking. I started to remember how fast they are, how vicious they are, and how brutal they are. Is this the smartest thing for me to do? Will I really make it out alive? Am I really willing to risk my life? It was too late to back out now. We had already purchased tickets for the VIP package, which included petting lions. Dead man walking.
I always imagined that if I ever went on a safari, I would be riding in a RV and wearing one of those khaki, floppy hats, with a white tank and some cute ass cargo pants. You know. Jurassic Park style. But all I had with me was some running shorts, flip-flops, and a hair tie.
I was doomed.
Oh and there was no Safari car, no gated windows, no tour guide. It’s just us (me, Dayo, his parents and siblings), in our rental car with a shitload of wild animals. As we pulled off one of the employees of the Safari yells “watch out for the ostrich! He’s a mean one!” Real comforting, lady. I kept my cool even though I was pretty convinced I was going to be mauled by a warthog or hyena.
So we’re driving through these beautiful pastures and hills and would you guess which animal we see first? The mother fucking ostrich. If you’ve never seen an ostrich in person, lucky you. This is the first time in my adult life that I literally almost shit myself. He was just standing there, on the side of the road like he was trying to hitch a ride. He was taller than our car and just watched us as we drove by. I knew ostriches could run very quickly, have extremely sharp talons and that a kick from one of these bad boys could end your life. While everyone was scooting to that side of the car to take pictures, I sat on the other side and minded my mother fucking business. NO WAY I was dying at the hands (or feet) of a damn bird.
Along the road we saw warthogs, meerkats, and giraffes. It was incredible. Then we came upon a separate area that had a long line of cars waiting to enter. As we inched closer to the gate, we saw a sign that read “Please keep your windows rolled up.” All I could hear was Kevin Harts voice saying “It’s about to go down.” We entered through the gates and before you know it, there are giant lionesses and one big ass lion just chilling right by the pathway.
Because I have the best luck in the world, when we stopped to take pictures, the lions decided to walk directly to our car. Out of all the cars out here, they come up to ours. Great. This is how I die. Death by lion. Everyone else was squealing in delight meanwhile, I’m checking the back door and the path behind it to better my odds of surviving this epic mauling that was about to take place. I would use the others as bait. Including my soon-to-be husband. Thankfully the lions just looked in the car and walked away. I took a deep sigh of relief and was ready to move on.
At the end of the safari ride, you go through what I like to call a Ring of Death. It was filled with fully grown cheetahs and baby lions. I figured that since I had just dodged death, being so close to the adult lions, that this should be a walk in the park. I am such an idiot.
At the Ring of Death, you’re allowed to touch one of the cheetahs. However I just did not feel right petting a grown cheetah that could literally kill me in less than two seconds. So I headed over to the lion cubs. I use the term cub for lack of better word because normally “cub” refers to a baby, which is normally much smaller than the parents but these mofo’s were bigger than me. Didn’t matter. These four cubs were so damn cute. I just had to do it.
Out of the four, there was one that was just calmly laying on the ground. He was just chilling out, maxin’ and relaxing all cool, so I figured he was the safest bet. The other three were playing around and acting a fool. I wasn’t going to fuck with that. Now that I think about it, he probably wasn’t my safest bet. I know how I react when I am trying to take a nap and someone bugs me. So if that lion was anything like me, he would’ve flipped the fuck out. Well, thankfully, he didn’t maul my face off. He just laid there calmly and let me rub his belly. It was an animal lover’s dream.
Since petting the lion cubs went so well, I decided I would brave the cheetah exhibit. I didn’t want to look back and say I never did touch a cheetah when I had the chance. So I put on my big girl panties and I went in the cheetah cage. I was terrified.
The cheetah was laying on a very low branch of a tree with his back turned to me. I kind of crept up on him, which was pretty stupid. Mind you, the whole time I’m wearing flip-flops. So if at any point this thing wanted Mexican for dinner, I was a goner. And, if by any chance, I were to make it to the gate, I would be electrocuted because these were electric fences surrounding the area . Basically I was doomed for failure if this guy attacked.
The trainer told me to squat down very low and slowly- which I did. He specifically told me not to touch his belly or get close to his paws. All of the precautions made me shake terribly. I stuck my hand out and very slowly and started rubbing the back of his head. He seemed cool with it, so I was cool with it. But I got a little too comfortable and my bag brushed up against his paw. He lifted his head slowly and looked me dead in the eyes. I don’t speak cheetah, but I knew exactly what he was saying to me. “Bitch, I will eat you.” Welp. That was enough for me. It was time to pack it up and go.
We boarded the plane to go home later that evening. It was bittersweet, because although I absolutely loved my experience in Africa, I missed my family, especially my baby boy, so very much. When I actually got home and told my family of my adventures, I was not greeted with words of excitement or joy. Every single one of my family members ignored everything about my trip and responded with “Are you fucking crazy? You pet a fucking cheetah?!?!?”
Well ladies and gents…that is the finale of my amazing trip to Africa! I cannot wait to go back. I promise I’ll share the stories of my next adventure.