Nelson Mandela Day and the vistas on the way to Pretoria

Nelson Mandela’s birthday began differently depending on which choice each boy made. The boys had the option of sleeping in and shopping, or getting up at the crack of dawn and doing a fourth game drive. A little more than half the boys (and adults!) chose to sleep in, and the rest went out for one last shot at racking up the big five. Although we did not see a leopard (some did on an earlier game drive), we were treated to another beautiful African sunrise, elephants, giraffes, baboons, a vulture, several eagles, some very cool birds, and the cutest warthog ever – if warthogs can be cute.

Links to pics in the set: Another Sunrise Safari - July 18

After a leisurely afternoon of shopping at the camp store, we headed to the Convention Center for our early afternoon concert.

The Convention Center at Kruger has to be the only convention room in the world that has a great acoustic. Normally, these venues are a nightmare for a choir: ceilings that are too high or too low, no shape to the room that allows for the science of acoustic to do its magic with the overtone series. But this room had gorgeous African wood walls that created a cathedral like sound.

The concert began with speeches by VIPs of the Park, and was followed with a performance by the Kruger National Park Choir and traditional African dancers. We then sang a 40 minute program that was very well-received. As a finale we sang South African folks songs with the Park Choir, including one called, aptly, “Nelson Mandela.” The song thanks Mandela for bringing peace. It’s great fun, and we’re bringing it back to the States to sing it for our audiences back home.

The Park hosted a dinner afterwards with both choirs and the VIPs. And, as usual, the room broke out into song and dance. You’d have to be in the room to witness it. Everyone, including the servers, the chaps, the VIPs (even Fitz) get caught up in it. Picture a room with everyone joining in, singing, clapping, and stomping. One of the Grads described it as a “folk song mosh pit.” I’m not sure I know what mosh pit is, but it sounds right.

On their return to the dorms, the boys had to pack their bags and have them checked before they could go to bed.

Link to pics from the set: Madiba Concert Day

This morning we were up at the crack of dawn to head to Pretoria. On the way of the park, we were treated with a few more sightings: baby elephants, some kudos, and too many impalas. “Impala to the rrrrrright, Impala to the leeeeeeeft.” (ask your sons)

On the way, we were treated to thrilling vistas: God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon (third largest in the world), and Striidom Tunnel. Words won’t do any of the justice. I encourage you to look them up on line, and know that your boys took it all into today. When young people are impressed by landscape, you know it’s got to be good.

We just watched a stunning sunset. We’re three hours late for our homestay rendezvous in Pretoria. Police activity, road work, lost bus drivers and other tour moments have held us up along the way. Hopefully our hosts will be understanding. To add insult to injury, the boys have to ask their homestays to do laundry. The state (and smell) of their clothing is truly scary.

For a whole host of boys, this is their first international homestay with KSB. They’re excited and nervous. We are coaching them on how to have a successful one.

More later…

P.S. Our wonderful photographer, Laurie, is doing informal portrait photos of all the boys. We started with the day of the Drakensberg concert. All portraits will be collected on another page - when internet time permits.