This was one unforgettable wedding experience for me! So I hope you don’t mind if this post is rather long- I normally babble as it is, but with such an awesome trip behind me, it would be out of character if I didn’t continue in my babbling tradition. :)
We (that being myself and Claudia, who’s my good friend and was my assistant for the trip) woke up at a ridiculous time of the morning to get ready for our flight from PE to Joburg, then from Joburg to Bulawayo. Upon our arrival at the Bulawayo airport, Clauds and I just smiled and said “Welcome to Africa”. Our plane was one of the only 2 that would arrive that day and upon landing you would expect them to chase some lions or elephants off the runway. It just looks that remote and wild there. Anyhow, walking into the temporary airport building (which has been temporary for 12 years already) we got greeted by the friendly and very trusting Custom officials. I am convinced that the Zimbabwean Customs officials believe in the honesty security system. What you say you have in the bag is what you have in the bag. Luckily we were honest- but the dodgy looking terrorist guy on our right that went through without opening his bag , had me questioning the efficiency of that honesty system.
We got picked up at the airport by the lovely and entertaining Mitch and Jess, who are friends of Emma and Gordon. We drove through to Jess’s house in Bulawayo where together with a lot of their friends we gathered before driving in convoy to Antelope Park, where the wedding was going to be held. We met so many cool, interesting and just generally amazing people on this trip! Little did we know that we also met the Minister of Sport and Education of Zimbabwe and that we were driving in a government vehicle to the Antelope Park. Felt like such a dork when I found that out- but its not actually such a big deal because what I came to know and experience of the Zimbabweans is that they are humble, down to earth genuine people who welcome all with open hearts and arms and have the most generous spirits!
When we arrived at Antelope Park, I got goosebumps. Because when we stepped out of the vehicle we were welcomed by the beautiful, powerful and intimidating sound of 80 odd lions roaring all around us. It was breathtaking, frightening and awesome all at the same time! Antelope Park breeds lions and then slowly rehabilitate them into the wild, and our accommodations were located smack bang in the middle of the breeding camps. It was amazing!! I loved every minute of it!
We then met Emma and Gordon who are the epitome of friendliness and niceness. I mentioned in my blog post of their couple shoot yesterday that as clients they have been one of the biggest blessings of my already blessed career! If you knew them you would understand what I mean, and that if you didn’t- you really wished that you did know them! So just take my word for it- they are amazing!
They are a remarkable couple who love readily and easily and who bubble over with joy. Saying it’s nice to be around them is an understatement- its a freaking blast! They have a great sense of humour and make you feel at home right away!
Part of what made this wedding so cool is that this couple arranged some pretty awesome props…you know like lions and elephants and stuff. Was SO excited for the couple shoot! The only problem is that these props are still wild creatures at heart, even though they are tamed. So asking the little lions cubs to sit nicely and smile at the camera doesn’t work so well, neither does asking the elephant not to trample you as they reverse speedily.
We started off the couple shoot with the lion cubs. Leanne and Nathan, a beautiful married couple who handle the cubs, were super helpful and aided us greatly in getting the shots. We headed off to an old jetty- where as God so carefully had it planned, there would be the most phenomenal storm clouds in the background. The elephants were waiting for us in a dim African sunset when we ere done at the jetty. Those creatures are damn big! Got quite nervous when these 5 ton animals started hurrying towards us, ears flapping and all! Eek! Was such a cool experience though and Emma and Gordon handled it like champs!
When we got back to the reception, mother nature let loose its wrath and we experienced the craziest African Storm! The wind howled through the tent and swept all the decorations off with it. Lighting lit up the sky like a new years party, thunder echoed though the air and shook the ground! The electricity and sound got cut, just about everything got wet, the roof leaked a bit- but it was AWESOME! I absolutely loved every part of that day!! I felt like a true African and was overwhelmed by how much I love this continent and everything that makes it what it is! It was truly unforgettable day!I really enjoyed listening to the speeches, they were so encouraging, uplifting and God honouring.
After a long but invigorating day of shooting, and greeting everyone we needed to at the party, we headed back to our lion camp to back up the photo’s and to get some much needed sleep!
We got our 80 pet lions to roar us to sleep and we were off to lala land. The next day, Clauds and I left for the Vic falls- which was Uh-mazing (say it as its spelt as Emma would say). But that’s another LONG story filled with many fun, silly, daunting and interesting tales which I don’t have time or space to write here. Besides- I think I’ve babbled enough!
The last two things I want to say though is… Emma and Gordon, and all the amazing folks you surround yourselves with, thank you for an amazing time. My life has been enriched by getting to meet and know you all!
And to Clauds- thank you my precious friend for coming along and helping like you did. You are the best partner in crime and I had such a great time being a rookie tourist with you! love you! xx