By: Lauren Nunley
This morning I think it finally started to sink in that today we are leaving Africa and within 24 hours we will be back to boring old Greensboro. Some of us have been ready for a while but a few of us are reluctant to come home. However, the leaders were able to squeeze one last activity in, a going away gift if you will. Everyone was ecstatic once we found out that we would be seeing elephants up close and personal. I was even more amazed when I read the sign coming in that read: Elephant Whispers Interactions and Safaris. So it was clear that we would be touching and interacting with the elephants. The anticipation that we had to endure was painstakingly long, or so it seemed. Once the elephants were ready we walked to a small set up area where we sat in a row and the elephants stood on piles of hay with riders on the backs. Before we were able to touch the animals, we had to go through a brief introduction and then they began to tell them to do tricks. We learned that most of them knew around 85 commands, and a few knew more. It was very interesting to find out how intelligent the creatures are, and how quickly they can learn. We were also given the opportunity to feed them pellets, which was something that I was most surely not going to pass up, and I’m sure that everyone else felt the same way. We also got to pet him and feel his skin and ears and tusks and stuff. It was an interesting experience that is impossible to ever forget. I think it was the best way to leave a foreign country: with a brilliant impression
By: Shatora Blackwell
Relaxation – after a South Africa massage
Ugh, it felt so good to be rubbed in such a professional way and was relieving to a stressful week. We arrived back to Casterbridge after having a excellent time at Elephant Whispers. Minesha, Askia, Deshawn and I figured we needed a massage. All of us agreed to go together so we could check out how much it would cost. I’m very grateful that Martin went with us. Somehow Martin’s haggling is way better than ours. They told us it would be 350 Rand, but Martin insisted that they give us a deal because four of us were going. 350 Rand turned into 300 Rand ($40) which doesn’t seem like much, but it’s better than nothing. Minesha and I agreed since it was our first time that we would go together. As we walked in the man informed us of what we were about to receive. Afterwards, he walked out and Minesha and I made ourselves comfortable and laid on the massage tables. Two girls walked in, we introduced ourselves, and did as they asked. She told me to put my head into a hole on the table and then to relax. She walked away and then put a couple of squirts of something into her hands and started rubbing my legs. I felt like I was on cloud nine. It was VERY exciting! When she first started I was giggling on the inside because it was tickling me, but after a while it was relaxing. Then, she went up to my back and neck which had more tension than usual. As she rubbed my back the pain started to flow straight out of my back and then straight back into earth. She was massaging a very tender muscle in my back and it started to hurt which didn’t feel good at all and made me want to tell her to move on, but I didn’t. As she finished, she told me to turn around. As I assumed the position I looked at Minesha and we both started laughing. She placed a folded towel onto my eyes and asked if I was comfortable. She massaged my feet and toes which also had me giggling because I’m ticklish. She rubbed my legs more and I was taking every moment in, pure pleasure. Next thing I know it was over which made me want to cry because my first massage turned into stress-free time. She thanked me and told Minesha and I that we could lay there or come out and leave. We got up and walked out the door and thanked them for their kindness and for helping us feel great. If it wasn’t for Martin showing and telling us about the massage, I wouldn’t have been able to be comfortable on this four hour ride to Joannsburg. So, home here I come.