May I Introduce You: Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

Cars, especially travel cars and camper vans, needs to be named by their owners. I always denied this practice for my vehicles. Officially. But since many years I used to think, and tell in secret, if there’s a name for my beloved Land Rover, it must be „Tortuga“, the Spanish word for tortoise. 

„Tortuga“ is not beautiful, but adorable, slow, but strong, nice green, but colored inconspicuous. 

My friend Christa told me from a lady, who makes stickers for cars. After a few gin tonics and nice talks, I decided to give my motorized travel companion finally an official name. Now it was to find a nice turtle pictogram or drawing to put it on Tortuga as a sticker.  It should be simple, rather cute, but not too childish. I found something appealing, I think. Watch the pics and tell me your opinion on the comments, please.

Marloth Park, the place for the official naming ceremony, couldn’t be better. Free roaming wildlife all over the estate. Lots of green, lush trees and a beautiful riverside to walk or having a sundowner with friends. A spot which means freedom, security and lifestyle at same time. 

My friend Christa honored me to be the godmother of Tortuga for this event. After she helped me with the stickers, we got a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate that event. From now an, my Land Rover discovering the world with me not nameless anymore, but as 

Tortuga, Tina Tortuga! 

#tinatortuga

Tina Tortuga (#tinatortuga) is officially named 🙂

A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.

Lions Family Life, Krugerpark, South Africa

Early morning along a main road in the Krugerpark. A white sedan stopped beside the road. When I approached that car slowly, I saw a serious lens out of the window. Looks like there is something interesting to see, I said to myself. The lady in the car was pointing to a lioness in the bush and a small cub just disappeared in the back. 

That car went on and I was alone with the lioness, who stood up and went to the scrub. When she start to eat, I noticed that kill from this morning lying there, a zebra.

Another young lioness got there, and when I looked closely more lion heads popping out of the bush.

It needed Kenny to come, who pointed out the big male with a beautiful mane. He stopped his car bit further down and gave me a wink. As we changed a few words, two young lions stepped onto the road, slowly walking down to unknown destination. That’s rather peculiar , said Kenny, and start to follow them. Indeed, they’re too young to step away of the pack too far. But they’ve been looking very confident how they went down the empty road. 

A hundred meters or so, then the lion youngsters left the street. Just a few meters in the bush to a pond of water. Obvious they’re thirsty and started immediately to drink. Occasionally they lift their head to see what’s going on, as more cars arrived. 

From now the road gets packed with spectaculars who noticed the young lions on their going-out. Even lion teenager can’t go out for a drink without people watching them closely. So, when they had enough, or maybe felt too disturbed, they crossed the road and sneaking slowly trough the bush, back to their herd. The lioness meanwhile, was standing up and searching for their youngsters. I guess family are always the same 😉 

Zurück in Afrika…

Wie schlafend steht mein Landrover in der Ecke neben dem Farmhaus. Und da möchte er auch gern weiterschlafen. Die ersten Erweckungsversuche misslingen. Dank meinen Freunden auf der Farm ist schnell eine neue Batterie besorgt und dem Reisefahrzeug neues Leben eingehaucht.

Bevor’s aber richtig losgeht werde ich von meinen Freunden für’s Wochenende auf ihre ‚game farm‘ eingeladen. Sie erwarben diese privaten Wildtierpark etwa ein Jahr zuvor und nutzen ihn für ihre grosse Familie und Freunden. So kam ich ihn Genuss mit einigen Familienmitglieder und Freunde einige Tage dort zu verbringen. Mit einem aufmunterndem Lächeln wurde mir sogar der Schlüssel für das Safariauto gereicht. Natürlich konnte ich dem Angebot nicht widerstehen und führte die Gesellschaft durch den Busch auf der Suche nach wilden Tiere…