This all has been the most wonderfully crazy experience of my entire life! There's a magic only Africa can provide, and to see the fruition of childhood dreams coming true.... Priceless. Yesterday we were invited to a birthday party in the village and really experienced life here first hand. Way too often travelers come here and gloss over life, instead only witnessing the "fluffy" and "iconic." This was a chance to make friends with the real people that make this place meaningful. Honestly it was a privilege just to be included.
The village sits within line of sight to the Kruger, though I got the distinct impression none of the villagers enter the park for recreation. You're all too aware that the wildlife finds you, here. One moment struck me the most when the owner of the home we visited took great pride in showing us his extensive garden. Fruits and vegetables of all sorts, some I knew and others that were unfamiliar. Tree nuts and seeds. Flowers of a wide variety. This man lovingly cultivated everything and seemed to take joy in plucking items fresh and inviting us to sample. His home raised and roasted peanuts were the best I've ever had!
One custom I was unused to was dancing. I've never been fond of dance, mostly because it brings up some awkward memories of my teenage years. But there was something about the beat of the music.... The cheers and joy of the crowd.... And the skirt! A great skirt made of grasses tied to a rope at the waist, passed around to anoint the next dancer. I did my best to blend in, but being the tall white American guy it only seemed a matter of time before the skirt would land on my unsynchronized hips. "Move your waist!" the calls rang out, "Don't be so stiff, and bend at the knees!" These are memories I will cherish forever.