To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cuttining Loose

The Coyote Trails Expedition was finished, and now I was cut loose to make my own way in South Africa.

Miss Pretty, my hostess
I had made careful plans, so I wasn't nervous, and I was getting into the idea of "letting go" and "going with the flow," which is a good thing, because things immediately went awry. 

I was scheduled to spend the night at Marc's Treehouse, so the good people at Moholoholo had called ahead and arranged for the Treehouse transport van to take me there. But when the van got to Marc's Treehouse it was clear that I was unexpected, and in fact, my treehouse had been rented to someone else for that night.  
My room at Tremisana
I argued and protested to Miss Pretty, the hostess, but when it became clear that things couldn't be changed, I put a pleasant face on it and got back in the van with a group of other folks to be driven some 30km north to Tremisana, a completely different lodge, for the night ~ nice enough, but very ordinary and NOT a treehouse. 

In a way, I didn't mind, as this meant I got to see more of South Africa, and in the end, by way of apology, I was taken on a terrific 3-hour bush walk the next morning, and later that day, on a game drive. 

The beautiful Balule River
Explaining dung uses
The bush walk was a great deal of fun, and I'm afraid I was swift in sliding in directly behind the guide after every stop to inspect a pile of rhino dung or a sandpaper bush leaf, because from that position I could ask all sorts of questions and also hear the guide's "travelogue" as he led us along.  
Hippo trail
We were led down into the Balule (Elephant) River bottoms, slogging across sand braided with hippo trails and bird tracks, screened much of the time from the river by 6- to 8-foot-tall reeds which rustled in the breeze.  
Tall reeds along the river

It was slightly spooky walking through the reeds, wondering what might be hanging out, only a few feet away but completely hidden. All kinds of tracks criss-crossed the sand, and Patrick, our guide, was very alert. 
Hippo sketch, drawn from my digital camera
After about an hour of walking, he spotted a bloat of hippos (that is the correct term for a group of hippos ~ honest!), and we crept up on them, emerging on a high bank above them only about 100 feet away (30 metres). After staring at us for awhile, they decided we were bad news and made for the water.  

Hippos take to the water
Patrick said this was a leopard
Being in a group of about fifteen people moving along at a brisk pace between stops, there was no opportunity for me to sketch, but I took lots of photos which I used to draw these hippos in my sketchbook later.

After getting track training at Moholoholo, I was very interested in the varied tracks we saw along the way. Patrick was startled but happy to accommodate me, and pointed out numerous tracks, including what he felt was a leopard track (with no claw marks ~ cats have retractable claws) and the dust was so fine that it picked up fur impressions at the front edge. What a perfect print! 
Waterbucks and vervet monkeys
Later that afternoon, we went on a game drive with a different guide, but didn't see much of interest except these husky waterbucks (with their white-circled rumps) keeping company with a troop of vervet monkeys.  
Add caption
Returning to the lodge, I surprised another vervet in the dining room next to last night's menu. It was boldly inspecting the table decorations Aughhh!.

Finally the van was ready to take me to my REAL lodgings.  But upon arrival I was told by Miss Margaret, my other hostess, that MY treehouse was still occupied, so they were going to put me in an even nicer one.  Well, I complained that I wanted MY treehouse, but to no avail.  

Miss Margaret, my hostess
At this point, I had a choice to make.  I could create a stink, or I could experience an ADDITIONAL cool treehouse and get my REAL treehouse later, as well.  So I allowed Miss Margaret to escort me to my alternate treehouse, balancing my bag on her head.  I don't really think they were responsible for the glitches, since the booking is done at a different location and they just try to make it work.  
I stayed at Marc's Treehouse for several days (much longer than the average stay) and I got to really like them both. Although they don't usually serve lunch to guests, they always made sure I had fruit to eat, and we got along very nicely. Margaret taught me how to text on her phone, and I promised both of them that they'd be included in the downloadable sketchbook when it is finished (see what those are like here).  

So here's a sketch of my "even nicer" treehouse. Quite handsome, isn't it?  It perches in its tree high above the river, partially supported by stilts to make it solid. I could sit on the deck and sketch, watch birds or scan the river banks below for wildlife, which I did to my heart's content for the rest of the day.

But in the morning, I was told I was scheduled for a game drive, leaving immediately after breakfast.  This was news to me, since I hadn't realized that my occupancy of a treehouse entitled me to game drives, but I cheerfully trotted back down the dirt path and clambered up the many steps to get my binoculars and water bottle, and we were off for Kruger Park.
But I have flat run out of time today, so I'll have to continue in the next post. I saw some Really Cool Critters!  Thanks for stopping by ~ how am I doing? 


Lynn Logan Roselli said...

I found you post on your expedition. I love it! You are really opening my eyes to a new world. Thanks

Irene Brady said...

Thanks Lynn! I'm delighted to have you along!

When I am having my adventures I find myself describing things in my head, thinking of ways to talk about them in my blog so people who aren't along with me (like you, here) can enjoy it with me later. I'm so glad it's working.

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