• Petra Vandecasteele

PART 4 – The Calm Between the Storms

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

The phone lines are down and we can’t reach the lodge. We are too early to catch the 16:00 road transfer to the lodge and too late for the 12:00 transfer. You need a 4x4 to get through the soft dune sand, so we have no other choice but to wait. Instead of exploring the coastal town of Kosi near the border with Mozambique, I decide to go to the meeting point first, so that we don’t have to find it closer to the time and miss our appointment due to some unforeseen event. “You must be Petra,” I hear a man call as he waves at me. How on earth does he know who I am? It’s not like I’m the only white person around here, or am I? “I was just about to return to the lodge when I saw you arrive and I had a feeling you were the guests who missed the previous transfer.” We are in luck! This is Africa, just go with the flow and mysterious solutions will appear out of nowhere.

The 4x4 sways over the sandy track until we reach the lodge and are welcomed by an overly dramatic tropical storm. We run squealing through the densely covered forest trails hoping to get to our safari tent before our luggage is completely soaked by the sudden downpour. Our tent is, of course, at the very end of the longest trail. I jump up at every flash of lightning followed by loud cracking thunder. As soon as the downpour stops – not even a few minutes later – one would never guess the heavens had just opened. As by magic, the fine dune sand had already slurped up the flood.

While I watch the African sun set behind the lake and take in the fabulous sweet fragrances that fill this beautiful coastal forest, my son James perfects his handstands at the edge of the swimming pool under the calls of a thousand happy frogs.

Soon after, the storm picks up again and rages relentlessly throughout the entire night. It’s hanging right above our tent in the middle of the forest which provides shelter from the rain and the wind. It’s absolutely fantastic! We love it and as we don’t want to miss a second of the aerial action, we don’t get much sleep, if any, during the night. I must admit that I am secretly relieved to share my tent with my son and daughter. With every lightning the forest is lit up and some crazy bird keeps on singing cheerfully until sunrise. However much I love this tropical storm, I would have hidden under my bed had I been alone in my tent…

I notice a family sitting suspiciously quietly at the breakfast table. “Did you sleep well?” I ask them. “Were the children not too scared?” “The little ones slept right through the storm, didn't hear a thing, never even woke up,” says the dad, “but my wife and I didn’t close an eye.” When I look around I realise I'm not the only guest here with deep pockets under my eyes due to a severe lack of sleep. Nevertheless, the intensity of the tropical storm was totally worth it!

Travel Tips:

  • Always take a rain jacket or a poncho with you, especially in summer rainfall areas where a downpour can hit you before you even see it coming;

  • Use sunscreen even on an overcast day, you'd be surprised how quickly you can burn if you're skin is not used to being exposed;

  • Always take insect repellent with you, night AND day.

Read my previous road tripping adventures:

Part 1 – The Lugguage Drama(...s)

Part 2 – Never Trust your GPS

Part 3 – An Uninvited Guest in My Shower

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