The first one I approached immediately bit my sleeve and pulled on it friskily, which is really cute puppy-like behavior, except that it was approximately the size and strength of a small rottweiler.
At that age and size, they’re not exactly babies anymore!
Then of all the random thoughts to have at that moment… you know that scene from Jurassic Park 2 where the little girl feeds the group of miniature dinosaurs before she realizes it’s not her sandwich they want to eat?
Don’t get me wrong, the lion cubs were absolutely adorable up close… hugging each other in their sleep (as you stroke them and discover their fuzzy-looking fur is the texture of a hairbrush), and gnawing affectionately on fingers the way kittens do, but with teeth 20 times bigger.
But I do know for sure that my self-preservation instincts are way stronger than my all affection for animals combined: after gingerly scratching at the back of a cub 2 or 3 times, I was happy to keep my hands by my side and just observe them after that.
Cos unlike my friend Nicci here, I can only handle this kind of kitty-play from something that can’t actually eat my face if it wants to:
I did manage to snap these priceless photos of the hubby getting sized up and chomped on though!
Lions aside, there was so much going on every day we were in Joburg! Our lovely friends from brought us to some decidedly non-touristy places, like lunch in an Ethiopian joint in the local part of town, and the ‘voodoo’ markets (aka muti, or traditional African medicine) which truly blew my mind and were the highlight of my trip.
Some things were so morbidly fascinating that I was actually scared to take pictures. Cos you just don’t want to risk getting hexed by a pissed-off stall owner. They were quite strict about not taking photographs. And the place literally smells of preserved death with things like full sized monkey skeletons and still-rotting open bird cadavers lying out to dry.
The military store in the war museum was pretty rocking too, with everything from Victorian official’s coats to Apartheid-era African army fatigues and genuine 40’s pin-up girl calendars. And uh, real Nazi swastikas.
It wasn’t until we were waiting for our flight home at Tambo airport and I heard a song on the radio that I recognize as a pole warmup tune from the studio that I suddenly couldn’t wait to be home.