Good News. Good Safari.

At long last I have received the approval letter from the Research Ethics Committee! Don’t get too excited…I still have to get the necessary approval from the Ministry of Health. Originally, the thought was that the approval from the Ministry would take two days. Then again, I was supposed to have my letter from the Research Ethics Committee nearly two weeks ago, so I’m not getting my hopes up. If we do manage to get the approval from the Ministry by the end of this week, then Elena should actually be able to do the focus groups before she leaves, so it could potentially still work out.

Since the endless hours of waiting and transcription are boring enough without having to write a post about it, I figured I would write my long overdue post about our safari in Swaziland. In all fairness, though, because of the sluggish internet, it took me weeks to upload these things…one video clip took 763 minutes and that was after several failed attempts.

We went to Hlane Royal National Park with a great group of American students who we stayed with at Veki’s Guesthouse in Mbabane. This is the second time I’ve been to Hlane for less than 24 hours (though this time it wasn’t preceded by an 8 hour drive from Lesotho and sleeping in a very tiny car at the border…but that’s another story). In the short time we were there, I managed to get 3 game drives in (mid-day, sunset, and sunrise), and got to see pretty much everything. I was particularly psyched about seeing the giraffes (since I didn’t get to see them last time), but there really isn’t anything that gets your heart pumping like a full grown male lion 20 feet away who roars angrily when one of your safari-mates decides to stand up in the land-rover.

By my last game drive, I still hadn’t seen any elephants, so I was particularly excited when we finally came across a young elephant. The youngster was enjoying some breakfast alongside the road about 10 feet to our left and a whole herd was also grazing about 50 feet to our right. We took about 60 seconds worth of pictures when the young elephant starts crossing right in front of the jeep. Great picture taking opportunity, right? Wrong! Very suddenly, our guide floors it, forcing the elephant into a run and off the road. Irritated with our guide for interrupting our only elephant sighting, we ask for an explanation when he finally slows down several minutes later. He indicates the broken stub where the driver side mirror used to be attached and explains that not even one year ago, the same young elephant cried out to mama elephant for help when our guide’s land-rover was nearby. Before the guide could get away, mama charged and the land-rover went rolling over with its 8 German passengers. Since that day, mama still charges when she sees the land-rover. It turns out that the young elephant was trying to set us up for a ramming! So not only did we not get any good elephant pictures, we also missed an opportunity for a great story…lucky Germans!

In addition to our safari fun, we had an interesting dinner (impala pot roast), some great entertainment provided by a roaming ostrich, and a great campfire that we managed to start without even resorting to the oil from our lamps (my father-in-law would have been so proud of my fire-starting abilities!). Thanks to Elena, Michelle, Ben and Lauren (aka “Little L” – yes, that does make me Big L) for a great safari!

One Comment

Melanie posted on July 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Glad the approvals seem to be moving now! And with you, I honestly don’t know if your comment about missing out on being rammed by an elephant was sarcastic or not…only you would actually probably appreciate an experience like that!

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