Karoo Travels – Chapter V – Addo Continued

Arriving back in camp just after sundown, we took a walk around the place before supper. At one side, there is a floodlit hide near a waterhole, where you can watch wild game considering a career in show business. After watching for a few minutes, we left it to the now rosy red visitors with sandals and socks, and bristling with lenses.

Adjacent to the hide is an information centre and a children’s play area. If you’re a parent who wants some peace and quiet, you can either feed your kid to a hungry predator, or you can leave him/her at this centre where a carer will do the deed for you. I’m exaggerating of course. Addo staff would never do such a thing. It is a blatant untruth that, for a small fee, you can buy an anaesthetic dart from a ranger for your rambunctious offspring. More’s the pity because there were a few little horrors on their cacophonous plastic motorbikes careening around the campsite who are only alive today because a hyena has taste buds.

Kudu - posing for tourists

We campers decided to treat ourselves to a meal at the restaurant and herewith another disappointed rant about quality and service. Upon being seated by a smiling waiter, we felt a sort of proprietary pride amongst the foreign visitors. A kind of, ‘Welcome to Our Country; hope you enjoy our wildlife and fantastic climate’. The place was a hubbub of activity with foreign tourists no doubt all eager to get a mouthful or two of what pleases the local palate.

Interestingly, there was a “Venison Burger” on the menu. Naturally, I asked our waiter what the venison was. Seeing the lack of comprehension clouding his face, we offered alternatives, “Is it Kudu, Rooibok/Impala, Ostrich….or what?” When he replied, “Yes”, we decided to let sleeping buck lie and accepted whatever came along. What we didn’t expect, was the Spanish Inq…. No, wait, wrong sketch. We didn’t expect our waiter to return with the news that there was to be no salad as they were unable to source tomato and lettuce. So, like good little second-class citizens, we uncomplainingly accepted our lot and gnawed on our mysterious burger (which possessed all the sinuey toughness of a Kudu that had expired after a migrating south from the Serengeti), without salad, wondering what the foreigners were thinking.

Another Kudu resisting the urge to appear as 'Venison Burger' at the Addo Restaurant

Our third meal at the Restaurant – we’re suckers for punishment – was supper on the second day. Let nobody accuse us of not giving them a chance. Mrs. Chips had Venison Hotpot and I asked for Ostrich Fillet. The waiter came back with the report that there was no Ostrich to be found on the premises. This was a blatant untruth as we’d spotted several dozen on our travels around the park, and a situation that, with a little foresight (and an appropriate weapon) would have resulted in a slightly depleted head count of the birds (hardly endangered), and a group of satisfied ostrich-fed customers.

What Obelix & Asterix would have ordered at the Addo Restaurant

In the absence then, of Ostrich, I selected the fillet of hake and chips, with the veg. of the day. This duly arrived with the usual (but not justified) aplomb. The vegetables were an eminently forgettable lump of boiled carrots and cabbage, both of which had the bejeepers cooked out of them. Closer inspection revealed that the hake was one of those factory-produced, uniform triangles of frozen blandness.

At all three meals, we saw only one basket of condiments for the entire restaurant. So when you asked, say, for the Tabasco sauce, they fetched the basket from another table. A short while later it was whisked away to other needy diners. If you then needed the Worcester sauce – tough luck china, you had your chance.

It was during our third meal that we watched neighbouring diners (German speaking tourists) ask for tomato sauce, only to be told that the restaurant was fresh out. Credit where it’s due though, a waitress used her initiative, removed money from the till and scuttled off to buy a bottle from the camp shop next door. The restaurant patrons only had to wait a few minutes before a beaming waitress returned with the requested sauce.

Observing these and other foreign visitors, one felt led to conclude that these people politely indulged the South Africans’ puerile attitudes to service and laconic responses to requests, as if saying to themselves, “they’re doing their best I suppose, and it IS a third world country after all; so let’s not complain because with the crime rate such as it is, chances are we’ll get our heads caved in round the corner.”

But I am not like that. I’m old enough to remember when South Africa was a desirable destination, NOT ONLY because of the wildlife and the climate. We offered top drawer service in hotels, resorts, airways, and trains. The Blue Train was world famous for its service as was their training restaurant in Johannesburg (who remembers the Blue Room?). Our national airways carrier now ranks down there with the also-rans and while the Blue Train still operates, it’s not a patch on what it used to be.

Yes – There will be chapter VI…Sorry hey

About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
This entry was posted in Humour - or humor, Photography, Travel - South Africa, Wildlife photography. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Karoo Travels – Chapter V – Addo Continued

  1. Pete says:

    Does anyone have an idea on how they rate Cape Town and Johannesburg Hotels and if the grading system is similar to the system used in Europe. I really an keen to get some commentary on the standard of accomodation in south african hotels. and a general View of the nighlife.
    hotels in south Africa

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