After the day off, it was back into the holiday (whoops, ‘vacation’) fray. We set off nice and early, because this time we had to drive so far that we got out of reach of the rock station and had to find a new one. Which there was, because the US is very well set-up for rock stations. And we were over halfway there when the Bossman realised we didn’t have the right tickets (my bad, I thought Busch Gardens was part of the Disney franchise, but no, it’s part of the Seaworld franchise) so we had to turn round and drive another forty miles home again, and then go all the way back.
No lie, we were under the exact same bridge we had been under when the Bossman realised we didn’t have the tickets, when I started giggling uncontrollably and he realised I hadn’t taken my meds. (Although dammit, I maintain that laughing cos you are now finally back at the point where you had to abort the mission last time is not necessarily a sign of nae meds).
We are not going back again, said the Bossman.
Well, I survived Seuss’ Landing on nae meds, how bad could this be? (Cue foreshadowing!)
The first thing we did on arrival was go see the steam train; which was a gas-powered steam train and took us all around the park, looking at the animals on the fauxfari and fake veld, and also having a runing commentory given on the many rollercoasters the park boasts (none of which we will be going on, although I must confess to the sort of curiosity that I know would burn out in a frenzy of terror the instant I was strapped into one). They are certainly very… integrated… with the park; they go over and under the roads and the cafes like anything.
The second thing we did was book ourselves in for a giraffe-feeding experience, since it was cheap (ish) and we were here, dammit. And the third thing, was to go find some lunch. Thus it was that I have now eaten a corndog, which may be the strangest thing I have ever eaten.
See these white birds? They are the equivalent of sparrows back home, except with giant noses. So cute – and I bet they eat people when the lights are turned off.
By my (admittedly rubbish) maths, the giraffe-feeding experience takes the number of safaris I have been on this month to five, as long as we count the one where all the animals were made of lego. It was pretty cool, actually; we had to stand on the back of a big truck, and got rumbled and bumbled out across the veld to take blurry photos of all the species I have many blurry photos of already. Although we were immediately halted by an emu who refused to get out of the way. The guide was pretty cool; showed us the difference between the common zebra and the er, uncommon zebra(?) – special ones have no stripes underneath – and also pointed out that they have stripes horizontally on their bums because that is the business (kicking) end and they want to make their arses look bigger and scarier. Also I now know that a flock of flamingos is called a ‘flamboyance’, a herd of hippos is called a ‘bloat’, and a herd of rhinos is a ‘crash’ of rhinos. (Did someone get paid for this? I am most envious.)
The uncommon zebra, trying to look like a fence
The giraffes are not shy, I will say that. We had barely entered their part of the park when a ‘tower’ of them (surely the guide is just taking the piss now) were all lolloping over to us. We were given lettuce leaves to feed them, which apparently is like icecream to giraffes (my theory: most things giraffes eat are thorny; lettuce isn’t) and the difficult bit was trying to keep them off it before we were ready. These enormous heads came arrowing down out of the sky, sidling round waists and into pockets; they also have eighteen-inch purple tongues, to give them that extra bit of reach. The Bossman got slobbered on by one, which delighted him very much, and one of the shortest members of the party was belted quite hard by a persistent giraffe and took fright (the photos of her expression were hilarious, poor woman).
Okay, it wasn’t just the giraffes who wanted a hand-out. David Cameron should get onto these guys tout suite.
On the way out, we had to stop to let a rollercoaster cart go past.
During our wander round the other animals, the Bossman decided he was actually a tyrannosaurus and herded me away from all the smoking areas while roaring. I have the sinking feeling he intends to keep this up for the remainder of the holiday.
Below: other animals, neither on safari nor giraffes.
In the evening, the Bossman was delighted because he had discovered a ‘tapas and tequila’ bar round the corner from the hotel. Tragically, it was on a wee walk past a beautiful wee lake infested with bitey insects; even more tragically, it was stowed out and very posh-looking. However, just a bit further down, there was a much cheaper and emptier Mexican bar, which turned out to play rock music rather than charty stuff, and at a far less ear-splitting volume. Even better, it was decked out with murals of zombie pirates, which I fell in love with, and had a hot sauce bar, which the Bossman fell in love with.
Alas, something in my ‘flautas’ was so strong that my tympanic membranes* began to burn, which is something I can safely say I have never experienced before.
*(For those who don’t work in ear, nose and throat, which is everyone: eardrums. Whoever heard of a chilli blistering your sodding eardrums?)
And thus it was that I spent my second-last night in Florida in acute discomfort of the gastric variety, which I will not go any further into.