Our trip to South Africa in 2005 was awesome. Not only did we visit Johannesburg, Cape Town, the Western Cape and the Wine Route, but we also went on our first (and to date only) safari.
Mrs Wilbur and I stayed in a rustic safari village called Akeru having flown in a turboprop from Jo’burg to Hoedspruit on the edge of Kruger.
Our accommodation was a cob-walled hut with a thatched roof. After nightfall we were issued with oil lamps to see us back to our basic but comfortable lodge as there was no electricity aside from in the main building. We were also told not to wander outside at night as baboons, lions and elephants were known to sometimes come into the camp for a sniff around or a drink from the small camp plunge pool (in the elephant’s case the whole lot)!
Our double bed had a large mosquito net and we took extra care not to allow anything inside, or so we thought. On the first night we had a huge red winged beastie for company inside the net! I managed to clout it with a rolled up magazine and so we were able to catch some sleep before the early morning alarm call for our pre-dawn safari.
We had a brilliant time encountering lions, elephants, rhino, antelopes, giraffe, zebra, jackals, baboons and scores of bird life so returned happy despite missing out on leopard, cheetah and buffalo.
After dark that night we returned again after a few beers once more by lamplight. Before long I needed the loo – a right hassle carefully undoing the net so as no more winged creatures could fly in and then heading off to the bathroom by torchlight.
I noticed something black in the bathtub out of the corner of my eye and assumed it to be a big spider. Mrs Wilbur is not overly fond of spiders at close quarters so I mentioned it to her so she would not be alarmed if she was caught short.
Indeed some thirty minutes later nature called for her and she had to unravel herself from her nest to make the short torchlit flit to the loo.
Returning a few minutes later she uttered the immortal words, “that’s not a spider, it’s a scorpion.”
Well I have seen the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, so know that these critters are not to be messed with.
However being after midnight, I decided to make light of the situation by stating it was only a small one and we would shut the door and it would go of its own accord.
Unsurprisingly this cut no ice with the learned lady and I was dispatched to summon one of the camp rangers to deal with our unwelcome guest.
Knowing that this was probably the best thing to do, I of course still moaned about having to re-dress and pick my way back to the main building. “What if there are lions about?” I knew this would be very unlikely but played the ‘I am a manly hero’ card despite not having the guts to get rid of the scorpion!
Ranger Ryan confirmed that it was indeed a scorpion as he gingerly picked it up in toilet paper and shook it out of the window. He then confirmed that we had done the right thing.
It may have been small but it was the worst type of scorpion, more aggressive than its larger cousins and with a belter of a sting, belying its modest form.
Mrs Wilbur was vindicated and I was glad she had insisted, though of course I didn’t admit it at the time!