Day 6: The lion pit to Eldoraigne High

Today was an early start, we were woken at 6am for our second game drive. After copious amounts of caffeine at 6:30am we set off into the reserve and immediately confronted by a giraffe. Tall with a long neck, many of the boys had confused looks on their faces, mistaking the giraffe for Mr Roser. A number of the boys dressed ready for a warm summer’s day but soon opted for the game keeper’s stash of ponchos, the boys looked more ready for a water ride than a game drive.

 

The majority of Jurassic Park-esque wagons headed straight to the Lion enclosure (2500 hectares) in the hope the lions were still active. The game keepers impressively and quickly tracked down the lions who were finishing up their breakfast of antelope, leaving the cubs to play with what was left of it’s head. The male was doing it’s best impression of Joe L by not getting up to see the sunrise.

Back in the main enclosure, the game keeper Francis allowed for the boys to get out of the wagon and into a ‘picnic’ area near the Hippos lake. Whether or not it was a ‘picnic’ area for us was questionable. The boys willingly got out while Niall M was finally released back into the wild. Sightings of elephants soon game over the radio. Not 1 or 2, but 7! The trees didn’t stand a chance, their trunks ripping down branches.

After a few hours out in the reserve, the boys resembled animals as they ate through Mabula’s breakfast stock. However, it was very much needed for the long drive ahead to Eldoraigne High School where the boys would meet their host families. We stopped off at Centurion Mall, South Africa’s version of Bluewater. Some took the opportunity to treat themselves to a gift while Kai P-P and Daniel R raced to McDonald’s.

We hopped (I flew…obviously) back on the coach and travelled to Eldoraigne High School. Eldoraigne is a mixed state school in an affluent area of Pretoria, which has a strong rugby culture. Rugby is used as a marketing tool for schools as parents will choose a school based upon the performance on the field. Strong rugby schools have lower behavioural problems and engage parents within school life, creating a strong community spirit. When Eldoraigne plays their local rivals, a crowd of over 5000 will be in attendance. However this is a small crowd compared to when the top two schools, Paarl Boys and Paarl Gym School play each other, with over 40,000 pitchside!

After a week in the bush, the boys became very excited at the sight of Eldoraigne’s sixth form girls’ softball team. In fact some of the boys may have stood a chance with the young ladies, if their kit had not made them smell like a Kudu’s undercarriage. 

As the host families arrived, the boys began to size up their opposition and fear of being hosted turned to fear of being eaten. The daily Transvaal diet of steak braai and sun shine had produced some of the biggest boys we had ever seen.

The host families were very pleasant and the first group of boys were called up to meet their hosts. Slowly the number of boys in the bleechers began to shrink as they set off with their hosts, you could see the stress in Mr Freds’ eyes disappear as he began to crack a smile.

I spent the evening watching Mr Jones attempt to master the perfect Tinder profile picture.

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