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Camping Creepy Crawlies


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    I am writing this letter with a huge smile on my face. I love to camp, and as a single lady my tent always had all the necessary accessories. When I began a relationship and had a baby, I found that camping was a whole new challenge – I had to learn how to share my tent with two other people, and all the paraphernalia a baby needs. Our first camping trip in a tent was a disaster, and the only way I could persuade my other half to try the camping thing again was to hire a caravan. So, I booked an on-site caravan and we went on our first caravan camping trip as a family last December. My baby is now a toddler under two, and we still always have to have nappies on hand.

    We stayed in Jamaka in the middle of the Cederberg over the festive season. The days were hot and still, and we spent them in the river for as long as possible. The evenings were stunning and cooler than the days – but it was then that the problem arose.

    As much as I like to think of myself as an “outdoors girl”, I happen to be terrified of anything with more than four legs, and the Cederberg unfortunately breeds the biggest creepy crawlies that I have ever seen… and they all come out at night.

    So, each night we retire to our caravan that is so small that it can hardly house two adults and a little one. One night, after a festive braai with friends, my partner is carrying our little girl who still won’t go to sleep and I have the torch to light our way home. Because of my paranoia, I scan the vicinity to check for unwelcome visitors, and the light beam lands on a spider the size of a side-plate right outside our caravan. I freeze, trying to figure out how to get into the caravan without either letting it in, or running off screaming in the opposite direction.

    My partner has no fear of spiders and is not very sympathetic about my “unnecessary panic”, as he calls it. We make our way around the visitor and do not welcome him in. Once inside, our usual bed routine starts with our trying to get my little one to sleep and preferably to stay asleep all night.

    As happens most nights, my baby wakes up during the night, and each time this happens, I need to get up and put her back to sleep. The issue arises that when I stand up to hobble over to her bed to put her back to sleep, I now find my bladder telling me that it needs to be emptied. I get back into bed, and think of all the ways I might fix this situation without leaving the caravan. It’s the visitors, you see; I know they are out there, and I am too terrified to walk out of the caravan with a torch to the ablution blocks. These in themselves house all types of spiders.

    So, after a lot of MacGyver thought and planning, I decide to make my own portapotty device by using a container with a lid and one of my daughter’s nappies. I open the container, place the nappy into it and hope for the best. To my utter shock and pleasant surprise, the nappy holds, and disposal is the simple one of used nappies.

    My partner is not as impressed by my MacGyver moves, but I am super delighted that I can rest easy for the rest of the night, and trip, knowing that I am not going to need to fend off unwelcome visitors during ablution trips. That said, we are looking into purchasing our own porta potty for our next camping trip, as mommy is not taking her daughter for midnight ablution walks.

    By Michelle Sandberg

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