25 December 2013

With Patience all things are possible!

Today was the big day and when I say big I mean BIG... like in GINORMOUS BIG. Today was our safari day.  Please allow me to tell you how this impossible day was conceived and delivered.  When I first decided that South Africa would be our next trip I was happy, but in all my stupidity I had the sad thought, "Man... it would be nice if I could go to Kenya or Tanzania instead so I could also include a safari."  I was stoopid like that for about 2 weeks (check the spelling... that's how stupid I was).  Suddenly myself told myself,  "If you don't get your stoopid-self on google and see if South Africa has safaris Imma slap you upside yo' head!"  So being that I'm afraid of my own threats of self-inflicted bodily harm I quickly got on google.  Not only does South Africa have safaris, it has plenty of 'em!  My first 10 minutes of searching was disappointing though.  The safaris ranged from $8,000-$13,000 per person for 3-5 days.  First of  all it would take me a lifetime to save that and even if I did have that much money I would want to be out there with AlphaPoppa, not Zane and Dude.  I'm just being honest! So then my next thought was,"I wonder if I could just pay for just a day or a few hours? Hmmmm? That would be enough for me and the boys for our first safari."  So my next google search was "one day safari in Johannesburg". I came up with only one website that advertised the trip for $165 per person for a day with pick up from your Johannesburg location.  I immediately sent them an email.  Now spending that $495 on the safari would cost more than double my housing and food while in South Africa but you only live once right?  Quickly Louise from the safari website emailed me, they had an availability on Christmas Eve and Dude would ride free so my total cost would be $330!!!  I was jumping for joy because I really didn't have $495 but $330 was closer to my range.  After confirming that I wanted the tour on that day my housing accommodations fell to pieces.  In addition to then putting my full attention on housing, I also was reluctant to pay for the safari online with so many things changing at the last minute. What if I don't go at all?  What if we don't make the flight?  What's their refund policy, etc?  By the time Lousie responded to my email asking if I could pay upon arrival I was in my seat on the plane.  Her response was I had to pay online at 2pm the day before the safari.  That deadline was 6 hours BEFORE I received her email.  I'd missed the deadline and possibly a chance of a lifetime opportunity.
Once in Johannesburg, after I settled into our little cottage at 2B Happy Lodge, I checked in at the main office with Patience, one of the property managers.  Patience asked me what I hoped to do while in "Jozi"?  I rambled off a few random things that I wasn't so sure about and told her how I'd just missed out on a day safari opportunity for the following morning.  Patience gently smiled at me and informed me that she knew of a few more safari tour companies.  She picked up the phone and started to make calls.  What she came up with was a safari guided by JoziTours, this safari was identical to the first option but only $125 per adult half off for Zane ($68) and Dude for free.  My new total was $193 and they would call back to verify if there was an opening for Thursday's tour, the day after Christmas. They called back hours later with the bad news that they will NOT offer a tour onThursday.  Patience broke the bad news to me and when she saw my sad face she said "don't worry my dear, be patient we will find something"
The next morning (yesterday) she came to me with a game plan.  "OK Erica, you can rent a car for $60 drive to the park yourself and just look around from the car window." In my head the response was "Say what, say huh?!?! There is no way I can rent a car that is right hand drive, drive 2.5 hours to the park (while still jetlagged) with two children, in South Africa!!  I don't even know how to pump or buy gas here! I'm adventurous but not suicidal.  I wouldn't make it to the highway driving in the left side of the street. I would then have to drive through a nature game reserve that houses 450+ elephants 75+ lions, rhinos, giraffes, and other animal that I've never seen or heard of!!"  She once again saw my face ask me for another hour for her to think.  For the record none of this is in Patience's job description.  Her job is to make sure we check in and out without trashing the place in between.  She was doing this all of her own kindness and was very adamant that she wanted us to leave with a positive impression of South Africa.
After an hour I returned.  By this time she'd spoken to a tour company based out of Sun City minutes from Pilanesburg Game Park.  They would do the tour on Christmas Day for $40 for me and $20 for Zane, with Dude going for free. After tax and gratuity it would be $68 total.  Wtf!!!  This whole thing went from $495/ $330 to $68!!!  Hell yes Patience! The only catch is that they don't pick up from Johannesburg I would have to find a ride to sun city which is 2.5 hours away.  She suggested the rental again. Again that was an absolute N-O!  She then called two tour places who were closed on Christmas.  She then reluctantly suggested her husband drive me with her joining along for the ride.  Her kids were older and Christmas is not a big commercial productions like in the US so she said she wouldn't mind spending her day off getting out of the city.  We negotiated a price $50 for gas and $50 for ther time. Taking us there and waiting for us to finish our tour.  The new total was $168.  Not bad at all.  In one day I would have spent that in gas and groceries at home!!  We agreed.   She called to reserve my spot for Christmas morning and she told me to be ready by 5am to head out early to sun city for my safari pick up.
During each journey I am gifted an angel (or two) Patience and her husband, Sibusiso are mine for my journey in South Africa.  It was even nicer to find out that Sibusiso (which means blessed in Zulu) was the same smiling driver who picked us up from the airport.  

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