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St. Lucia, South Africa: Extremely Hip

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The “Hippo Crossing” road sign into the small town of St. Lucia gives us an initial impression of gimmick tourist trap.

Photo by Marilynn Windust


That is, until we cross the estuary where several hippos grazing underwater lift their heads up for air, several feet from the road.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Yes, really!

After getting settled into Bib’s International Backpackers Hostel, I head out for supplies.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Braving the street – before dark

At the liquor store, Burt the owner learns that I’m from the United States. “Stephen King just left here yesterday,” he says. “He comes here a lot on holiday and we’re good friends.” Burt always gets a free copy of King’s books, and asked me to send him a copy of mine. I laugh. “Don’t expect a great novel.” Bert gives me the PO Box for the bank where his wife works. “Can’t send it to my house, mail gets stolen in South Africa.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hippos enjoying just a small part of these protected wetlands – the view from our table at the Deep Sea Angling Club

Friendly folks talk to us everywhere in this town. St. Lucia had transformed from fishing to tourism. Over a dish of lamb curry at the Deep Sea Angling Club, a patron tells us that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park protects five distinct ecosystems and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He also warns us about walking around at night. “That’s when hippos come out of the water to graze on land.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Definitely don’t want to run into this guy on the street

Hank Swatter tells us a story about his father, who is a rare survivor of hippo attack…One night about two years ago, their “sausage dog” starts barking. Anthony Swatter goes into the yard without a lantern, expecting to catch a burglar. He startles a hippo, who attacks him and gouges his abdomen with his tusks. Then hippo bites down on Anthony’s leg and flings him into the bush, snapping off the leg with his teeth. Hippo tries to gouge again, when Anthony swings a desperate punch onto hippo’s sensitive lips. Hippo resumes grazing, while emergency medical staff attend to the victim. Anthony lives with a prosthesis and colostomy bag. (Google “Man loses leg in hippo attack” if interested)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Our first Rhino sighting

Let’s drive though Hluhluwe Game Reserve and spot some animals. From the safety of our little Honda, we have a front row seat to watch a grazing rhino.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

No comment

A monkey along the way has a serious case of “blue balls!”

Photo by Marilynn Windust


Buffalo, waterbuck, and colorful nyala are not bothered too much by our presence.

Photo by Marilynn Windust


There is something new and thrilling around every corner here in Southern Africa.

Photo by Marilynn Windust


I wonder if Stephen King’s next book will involve hippos.

Photo by Marilynn Windust


Ron Mitchell

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Skip #

    Great photos…NO, I would NOT like to meet them in the darkness!! Have a great “rest of the trip” and come home SAFE… SEMPER FI

    February 7, 2015
  2. ma, pa, and jackeroo #

    We agree: YIKES!! Great photos…. and writing…… Stay Safe!!

    February 7, 2015
  3. Glenn #

    Just wondering…… what’s the favorite liquor of the Gods in that part of the world ? Do they have their own brands of whiskey…rum…bourbon ??? How does it compare to the brands here in the states ? Interesting photos . I don’t think I’d be too keen on wandering around at night either that’s for sure. Stay safe ol’ man. Look forward to you next post.

    February 7, 2015
    • Glenn, haven’t seen any special hard stuff, but lots of fine wines/winerys around, and as a beer drinker I’m on Carlings Black Label. Didn’t know it was still on earth.

      February 7, 2015

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