|Me, Melissa, Mateo, and Oliver|
(From left to right).
I paid $16 USD from JoeBerg to Nelspruit, which is the closest entrance to the Kruger National Park from JoeBerg. Kruger is the most famous and largest national park in South Africa. Paul Kruger was the 19th Century President of the South African Republic. He was also a famous war hero for the boers, during their Boer Wars. Under his administration, he was able to apprehend those responsible for the infamous Jameson Raid.
As a result, they named the Kruger National Park after him. The Kruger is about 20,000 square kilometers or 7,722 square miles. To give you an idea of the size of this park, it's about the size of the entire country of Israel. The entire State of Maryland easily fits into the Kruger. So, it's huge. No wonder why there are 9 entrances into the Kruger.
To start with, I had an terrible time in Nelspruit. No wonder my host told me not to go to Nelspruit. Ian said, instead, to go to through the Komatipoort Entrance, which is close by the Crocodile River - where all the animals are at.
I felt like in Nelspruit, a number of businesses try to take advantage of tourists. First, I got into another argument with the Chinese restaurant, because they overcharged me on my bill. (This also happened to me in Port Elizabeth.) Then, there was a place called Nelspruit Backpackers, where the host's fridge was so full, and he had maintenance work start early in the morning. I couldn't sleep; so, I had to leave.
One of the worst experiences I've had in South Africa was at the Old Vic. Although the place was nice, the owner made me uncomfortable by pushing her tours on me - which were extraordinarily overpriced. She looked like someone holding in all her anger and frustration. Her one-day-Kruger-tour cost $137.50 a day. (Let me tell you, none of the locals would pay that price to see the Kruger). Her two day tour was closer to $400.
Also, a Swiss group brought some wine, instead of buying hers. I overheard her tell her manager, "If they bring their own wine again, kick them out."
She told me that if I didn't do a tour (implying with her), I wasn't going to see the Kruger. (Isn't that a little bit like black mail?)
I had to tell the manager, her boss was making me feel uncomfortable. The boss wasn't happy to hear it, especially from her employee, and long story short, we got into a big argument about it all. It left me feeling unsafe. Not hospitable or kind or generous at all.
Anyways, I did end up leaving that hostel with a French-Swiss couple and a Dutch guy. (Their photos are published in this post.) That was the good thing about going to Nelspruit was that I got to meet them.
We all met because the supermarket was 3 miles (about 5km) from the hostel, and the Swiss couple had a car. They drove us all one day to the supermarket, but Mateo struggled to drive, because it was on the other side of the road. And since it was night, I had to help direct him to the market, but even I got us lost twice in the dark.
In the end, we made it the supermarket, and we all cheered "Yay!", because it was an adventurous and difficult journey for all of us. It was also really nice to eat dinner together.
But they always seemed scared and lost. So, in the end, I said they were like children. And in the end, I would call them "My Swiss children."
I would joke that I was sorry that I didn't bring Swiss chocolate for them when they were bored or did a good job. They looked at me annoyed.
Well, the three of them took the expensive Kruger tour one day. And the hostel owner seemed pleased she made money off of them.
I, instead, went to a cafe to do some errands and rest. To be fair of the tour, the group came back happy because they saw so many animals. Besides seeing four of the Big Five (more on the Big Five later), they also saw a hyena, hippos, and a cheetah. That's a pretty good day in the Kruger if you see all that.
After the Kruger, we had to make dinner. Melissa made a salad. I cooked some ground beef, and we bought some tzatziki sauce and pita breads to have some Greek food. I bought some hummus as well, but when I opened it, it turned out to be moldy. Not good. (I returned it the next morning for a refund.)
I was in a bad mood though and didn't eat after arguing with the owner. Instead, an American guy (who was the kind of quiet guy that was pathetic because he sucked up to everyone) ate my food.
I told him, "So, you eat my food, after you take the owner's side in the argument?"
He didn't say anything but looked at me pathetically.
Well Mateo and Melissa wanted to go to the Blyde River Canyon. They asked me several times to go, but I was hesitant, because I wanted to see the Kruger. I was hoping that I could find a group or someone else who could drive in to take me.
But after arguing with the owner, I made up my mind to go with Mateo and Melissa to the Blyde River. The hostel wasn't a safe place for me to stay anymore.
That night, I had the worst sleep. There were two guys (from Colombia) and an old American guy who were snoring loudly, loud enough to wake the dead. Oliver woke up too and described it as a concert of snorers.
Then the rain started pouring, which made the room colder. I only slept four hours. (I've decided I can no longer stay in a dorm room of more than 4 people. I can't handle snorers anymore. I wonder why hostels don't have a room reserved for snorers if they could.)
At breakfast, I was grumpy and they could all feel it. I told them, "I'm still in a bad mood from arguing with the owners." The rain was pouring and pouring hard. The weather made everyone grumpier.
The owner of the hostel asked Mateo if she was taking me. When he said, "Yes," she looked angry.
I couldn't understand why. Did she only want me to stay for the money? Or was she mad that I had freedom to go, after all I'm the one who chooses how to spend my money. I didn't get her. She was a complicated person.
Anyways, we packed all our stuff, and the four of us were squished into a tiny car. Oliver and Mateo sat in the front. Melissa and I sat in the back. Melissa had to lift her feet on top of the luggage. I was crunched in the corner.
We drove awhile and ordered a coffee before we hit the road. It was raining and gloomy. And that's how I left Godforsaken Nelspruit. It reminded me of a line Jesus said, "And if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet." (Matt. 10:14 GNT).