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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Elephants In Town!

We have lived in South Africa for 5 years now.  In fact, it's 5 years tomorrow.  It should have been 5 today, as we left the States on March 9, 2008.  But an unexpected 24-hour visit to a desert island in the middle of the Atlantic brought us to South Africa on March 11th.

Having lived here so long we have pretty much adapted and its rare now that we experience culture shock.  In fact, this past summer when we were in the States we felt a lot of culture shock dealing with American culture.  But every so often something happens that reminds us - TIA - This Is Africa.

Last week one suce incident occurred.  We were driving through town, on our way to the mall on some errand or other when we look to our left and see none other than two full-grown elephants feeding greedily on an open plot of land.  And let me assure you, elephants are huge!  Of course, we had to stop and watch for a bit.

If you look at the first picture below you'll see behind the elephant some trees with a branch on the ground.  About a minute before I took the picture that elephant used its trunk and ripped that branch right off the tree.  It's about 6 inches in diameter and he or she snapped it like a toothpick.  If you've ever tried to break a twig, stick or any form of woody object you'll know how much force it would take to do something like that, especially considering it was a live branch on a live tree.  These two things were massive.  And so amazing to watch.

When I was young my brother and I had an ongoing argument with our cousins over which animal is better, the elephant or the horse.  This close encounter further assured me that elephants are indeed much better than horses.  So Boo-Yah!

...Oh, I forgot to mention there was a circus in town.  On the one side of this empty lot is the mall, on the other St Dominic's school, a third side is the Welkom Courthouse.  And the fourth side was occupied by the circus tent and trucks.  These elephants were clearly part of the act.  The trainers were sitting there watching the elephants.  In fact, after the one broke the tree branch the trainer called it over and scolded it like a disobedient puppy.  That takes some nerve!  So, while the elephants were loose in town it wasn't exactly like they were renegade wild elephants stopping by for a snack.

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