It’s Monday 26th December 2011 and Christmas was yesterday

About two weeks ago Emily sat me down and went through the menu for Christmas. I heard the words Turkey and Baked Ham and went awfully quiet, which doesn’t happen very often. Emily asked me what the problem was, and I explained that at home in Australia our Christmas lunch consists of seafood and very little else, as we would rather spend our time at the beach than in the kitchen. Looking a little concerned she said her famous words “Don’t worry we will make a plan”.

It was like going back to school all over again except my teacher, Miss Emily Haynes, was standing behind a kitchen benchtop instead of a white board. The class was “Everything You Should Know about Christmas Cooking”. It was an intense three day course on everything from cleaning, stuffing, basting and roasting a turkey to baking a ham, mince pies and Christmas cakes. The hard work paid off and our Christmas at Nkwali went off like a thousand Christmas Crackers all being pulled at once. Bang!!!!

The preparations for Christmas started on the 21st. The first thing on my list was to find a fine Christmas tree. After a bit of an adventure getting out of camp Justin and I searched high and low for our tree and eventually found one that would actually fit in the back of the vehicle. Next thing was decorating our camp. Of course I thought this was going to be a piece of cake but it seems that baboons not only love our afternoon tea cakes but also they love stealing our Christmas ornaments, especially the red baubles. So gone were the red baubles and in were the gold and silver ones which the baboons stayed well away from.

Tree in truckRed baubles, but not for long

You can’t have a Christmas without scrumptious food and that’s where our amazing chefs came into the picture. Our kitchen definitely looked like Santas’ little workshop except instead of toys being made it was mince pies, Christmas cakes, shortbread, spiced fruit muffins, smoked salmon and avocado, roast turkey, baked ham, lime and coconut ice cream and amarula mousse. Lameck, Alfred and Francis pulled out the stops and blew the guests away.

In the kitchenFestive camp sign

On Christmas Eve once the guests left on their afternoon game drive, Justin, the headwaiter, and I headed for Flatdogs. We had planned, with other camps in the valley, a surprise sundowner session with Christmas carols for our guests. Once they had arrived, iced cold bottles of champagne were popped, snacks were munched, jolly chitchat was made. With a whole lot of Christmas spirit in the air we all took our seats to watch the day slowly surrender itself to dusk. The sun slowly dipped down to the horizon and like lovers they kissed one another as if for the last time. Everything was still and quiet and then the carols began.

Luangwa Safari ChoirLuangwa Safari Choir

Christmas day started like any morning here at RPS. Hot porridge around the fire, steaming tea and coffee and toast on the grill. Once everyone was ready and revived from the night before they gathered on the boat and shot across the Luangwa River and into the park. Most of all the animals were seen and greeted with a very Merry Christmas. Our much awaited lunch was had, over-looking the Nkwali lagoon where a daddy African Jacana and his three chicks eyed out our delicious fare. After an exquisite feast and feeling rather rotund, our Christmas ended by relaxing at the pool and watching the resident animals of the South Luangwa go about their day.

Crossing the riverAfrican Jacana

To all the readers of “It’s Monday”, I hope you also had a fabulous Christmas with your family and friends and here is wishing you all the very best for the New Year.

Claire

Ps. A very big zikomo (thank-you) goes out to the Nkwali staff for making it a Christmas guests will never forget…including myself!

Luangwa Safari Choir

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