Remember how I told you Ryan was in South Africa for work? Well before he left I made him promise me that if he did something awesome he had to write a Tourist Tuesday post. And he did do something awesome, so below is his post. Thanks to Ryan for being the first ever guest poster!
Good day ladies and gentleman. I am honored to join you as the first ever guest author at Cooking is Messy. While not usually known for my prose, I’ve been generously asked to share my recent trip to the Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa with the loyal CiM following.
For those of you who are geographically challenged, you’ll find Johannesburg near the Southern tip of Africa. It’s a massively fast growing city of almost 4.5 million people with buildings and highways being built in every direction the eye can see. The city still retains some of its industrial mining past, but I was impressed by the amount of investment that seemed to be happening wherever I went. While industrial, political and economic scars still remain visible across the city, it was good to see the positive development that seems to be happening in large sections of the city instead the negative news that is captured about Africa in the media.
With some context in place, if you take a 45 minute trip out of Jo’Burg you find your way to the appropriately named Lion Park. Marketing itself as the number 1 tourist attraction in Gauteng, the Lion Park is a facility designed to allow customers up close views and experiences with native African animals. I had the good fortune of visiting with my coworker during one afternoon of our trip. While up close experiences with wild animals perhaps confuses our traditional American sensibilities, it was amazing an experience.
When you get there you can have an interactive experience and pet the lion cubs. Their hair felt bristly and their bodies were all muscle. However, the behavior of the lion cubs reminded me of the house cats I had growing up. They were cute and I had to send Mariel pictures to brag. But, I was a good husband and bought her some lion souvenirs because I knew she’d be jealous. The cub in the picture below is just three months old. But the bigger one, in the second picture, is seven months old.
While at Lion Park, my colleague and I also fed giraffes. Their heads were really large, scary, and almost as big as your entire body. The giraffe would stick out his tongue and scoop the food out of my hand. The tongue was long and slimy. While we were feeding the nearby ostriches kept trying to steal food. They were even scarier with tiny beady eyes and a sharp beak that pecked into my hands. You can see the ostrich being suspicious in the background of the photos. It all really was amazing.