Today, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Madhams and I did a bit of catching up on e-mail & work.
And then… after ice-creams and a new pair of shoes (for Morgan’s rapidly expanding feet)… we drove off to visit Jessica.
Jessica is the only tame, people-friendly adult hippo in the world (and is very famous).
She was washed up by floods as a tiny calf and discovered by a game ranger who lives on the river banks of one of the smaller off-shoots of the Blyde River. The game ranger and his wife took the hippo in… and now, she is fully grown – and utterly domesticated.
This is strange behaviour for a hippo. Hippos are known for being exceptionally aggressive and territorial and for killing more people in Africa than any other wild animal! Everyone knows that you never approach a hippo… that you keep away from hippos! They have enormous jaws, enormous teeth… and a single bite can kill you.
And yet – there was Jessica… this sweet, friendly hippo… who drinks copious amounts of Rooibos tea – and who happily munches on sweet potatoes and corn.
What makes it even more interesting, is that she’s not a captive hippo. She spends most of the time with her human family… and occasionally wanders up-stream to bond with the other wild hippos in the vicinity… and then comes back again.
We all fed Jessica – although Joah was a bit nervous and didn’t want to touch her or feed her from her favourite tea bottle. I loved touching her snout – it almost felt rubbery… with bristles of hair poking out. And yes – I even kissed her!
Here’s some pics…
After visiting Jessica, we headed out to a lovely tea garden that overlooks the distant Drakensberg mountains and an ancient, giant Baobab tree. Wow! I have definitely never visited such a huge tree (and the photos definitely don’t do it justice) and I was annoyed to see how many people had scratched meaningless graffiti into the ancient bark…
Anyway… so we enjoyed divine pancakes… and I enjoyed the lovely view while the kids cooled themselves with wishing-well water… and ran through the sprinklers. Here’s some photos…
Then, it was back to Clare’s house for an afternoon nap… and afterwards, the cousins enjoyed dusk game of lego on the trampoline.
When it was dark, we drove into town for pizza at a fantastic Italian restaurant – owned and operated by Sicilian foodies who moved to Hoedspruit just a few years ago (and who speak with very strong Italian accents).
The kids played… Clare and I yakked some more… and were eventually joined by Michel (who had been away in White River on a consulting trip). Lovely company… lovely food… happy children… another fabulous day for grateful-happy-me! 🙂