Since we were going on an outing instead of a game drive today we got to sleep in until 7:00; it’s amazing how much warmer it was than our usual six am. Bernie, our ranger, drove us in a small mini bus to St. Lucia, a coastal town about one and a half hours away.
St. Lucia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beautiful estuary and dunes. We went on a two hour boat cruise, seeing hippos, crocodiles, and many birds. After our amazing cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana, this was not super exciting, but it was a relaxing lovely day on the water. The estuary has a few oysters, but surprisingly no mussels or clams. Mangrove trees send up tiny roots that look like short grass to get air. This chokes out any other vegetation in the grove.
We saw several large herds of hippos. Each big group has only one bull (adult male) and many cows and youngsters. When a hippo is about to give birth, she removes herself from the herd. If the baby is a female, she will return. If a male, she will stay away for months until it is big enough to defend itself from the bull, who sees any other male as a threat. The small surfing town of St. Lucia has problems with the hippos wandering down the streets at night, looking for green vegetation to eat.
We ate at a a local pub, having butter fish and prawns or calamari (and some good local beer), while Bernie told us about growing up in Rhodesia, in what is now Zimbabwe. She learned to use a rifle at age four and most of her childhood was during the war.
After lunch we wandered about the town for an hour. We bought some needed electronics at a camera store, a few tee shirts at a surf shop, had a delicious cup of coffee, and tried to use the ATM. Emma got a lovely beaded necklace from a curio shop.
At last we got to the beach, a huge empty expanse of dunes and sand going down to the Indian Ocean. These are the second largest vegetated sand dunes in the world. The water was a bit warmer than the air, but the strong breeze made it too cold for swimming although Emma, Andrew, and Tracy waded in. The huge waves were a beautiful blue-green color tipped with white foam as they crested. It looked like a great place for surfing although we were the only people in sight.
In the morning we ordered carved Monkey Orange ornaments from a street vendor. He takes the fruit, cuts open a tea-candle sized hole in the top, and scoops out the insides. Then he uses a small knife to carve beautiful scenes into the green flesh. As they dry, the colors will fade to brown and tan, but I may be able token the colors if I coat them in acrylic. In either case, they will be beautiful patio lights and Christmas tree ornaments which hold special memories of our African travels.