It Really Is a Small World



One of my favorite parts of traveling is the new friends we meet. Staying in small camps and lodges here in Africa we are spending lots of time doing game drives and eating with other guests. We have really lucked out so far and met so many nice people.

In the “it really is a small world category” we met a man night before last who had grown up in Chapel Hill and had gone to Durham Academy from sixth to eighth grade. He told us he went to boarding school because DA did not have a high school, that’s how long ago it was.

Our second small world encounter was Cynthia, a retired Coke exec who had worked with my college roommate Lauren and Pat, a friend of Russ’. She had brought her grown niece and nephew Julie and Jay here as belated graduation presents. I hope my sister Janet is taking a note of this.

Russ and I are usually on the same page about who we are drawn to and who we just assume steer clear of. For the most part we can tell within moments of that initial handshake and introduction if we want to invest any valuable holiday time getting to know someone. Russ also has a shorthand for sussing out interesting but yet shy people. I, of course, like most anyone who will listen to a story. I think I met my story telling match at Tanda Tula.

Yesterday after the morning game drive all the other guests departed and we were the only “old ones” left. We were sitting by the pool when new people arrived. You don’t get to choose who is in your safari vehicle and you stay with the same guide for your whole stay so we looked over the new people hoping to get a good match. Two new couples came out to the pool and we introduced ourselves. They were Joss and Jono, a young married couple who are living in South Africa while Joss is doing her research for her PhD and her parents, Stella and Robb. They are Brits, but had lived in South Africa for years, and are now back in the UK.

Being the Anglophiles that we are we hoped that they would be our safari partners and they were. Stella and Robb had come to visit Joss, their only daughter and she surprised them with this trip to Tanda Tula. The small world connection with them was that Joss has many UNC students in her public health program here in South Africa and Joss and Jono met at the University of Durham, just not our Durham.

As we went out on Safari and through dinner Robb regaled us with many stories about their years living here in Joberg and what life was like during apartheid and when Mandela was elected. The history here is so interesting and complicated. I think I had finally met my story telling match. As dessert was being served the staff came our blowing a kudu horn and singing happy birthday. Turned out it was Stella’s birthday and Joss had arranged the surprise for her.

One of the nicest things about our new friends was the sweet relationship between Joss and her parents and how well Jono fits in. I wish that Carter had been here to take good daughter lessons from Joss. Unfortunately as quickly as they came they had to leave after our morning game drive, bush breakfast and walk back to camp. Now we wait for the next new arrivals and what interesting people we will meet this afternoon.

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