Thursday, February 19, 2004

Johannesburg, South Africa--Day 20

Today I woke up and looked out of my window and was pleased to find that it was really sunny outside! Perfect day for hippo watching if you asked me, although I did pack my umbrella just in case there was going to be a repeat of yesterday. After getting ready I headed downstairs and got another taxi, deciding to go back to the Johannesburg Zoo to see if Cinderella and Sandrock were up to anything this morning since the weather was better.

I was dropped off and again the driver offered to pick me up and then take me on to Pretoria. Perfect! So I headed back into the zoo and found Cinderella and Sandrock snoozing in the water (again). So I waited. And waited. And waited. Cinderella seemed interested in me (she kept popping her head out of the water and then back in again, almost checking to see if I was still there!) and I while I waited was accompanied by several zoo workers and zoo visitors at different times, including a large school group of kids who were all excitedly shouting at the hippos, who weren’t paying them any notice. At this point I decided that I should go to the Pretoria zoo as I wasn’t sure what the hippo situation would be like there and I didn’t want to take my chances watching these guys again for too long and miss time with the hippos in Pretoria. So I went back to the main entrance and found my taxi, after talking to several zoo workers on my way who were wondering why I was back at the zoo and recognized me from yesterday.

The drive to Pretoria was nice (and not too long) and the driver dropped me off at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (also known as the Pretoria Zoo) and said he would wait for me to take me back. So I headed in and found the hippos (Gus, Gertrude, Samantha and a baby male who has yet to be given an official name) who were just getting ready to go into the water, which meant that I could get some really nice shots of them both out and in the water. Phew! I did have some trouble figuring out what their names were since and could not for the life of me find their name board that apparently existed but after several attempts and several conversations with zoo keepers later, I was able to find out their names and watch them for a while longer. Again the zookeepers were really interested that I was from the States and why was I looking at hippos here in South Africa? I went to find out what the Emerald Safari Resort was (since apparently there are hippos there and that it is located at the same address as this zoo….hmmm) but was told by the information desk that no such place existed.

After all of this I hit the gift shop and then met my taxi driver who was sleeping in the car (I felt really bad waking him up) and he took me back to the hotel. I finally got something to eat at the hotel restaurant and walked over to a nearby shopping center to pick up some guide books for my future destinations! By this time it was around 5 o’clock and so it was back to the hotel to do work transferring the photos, taking a short nap and then dinner, which leads up until now and I am off to bed!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.