When a Peep of the Year decides to get married and put on a wedding, you always have to expect that it will be larger than life..... because that is what POTY's do.
But when POTY, Nathaniel Clarke, tied the knot with Raeleen Rourke this past weekend, they produced a wedding celebration that can only be called epic in the considered opinion of this MOAM.
Since Nate has been one of Son, Mike Nestor's, best friends, and a person held in the highest regard by the Nestor family, we were honored when he invited us to his wedding to be held in South Africa.... and when I say South Africa... I mean the whole freaking country,
Mike and I made the journey to honor Nate and Raeleen by flying to Cape Town by way of London and Johannesburg in a 17 hour flight. Mike went immediately to a Cape Town Modern house where the Bachelor Party was in play, while I stayed on the ocean front hotel, keeping out of the line of fire that generally besets this type of gathering. After overcoming jet lag and taking in the beautiful Camp Bay of Cape Town, we journeyed 2 1/2 hours by bus to Gansbaai to do a little Great White Shark Cage diving.
It's not too often that a Mountain of a Man like myself lets out a terrified scream, and I was particularly lucky that it happened while I was underwater as a 4 meter shark cruised right next to a fairly rickety shark cage. Then to see the huge critter crest out of the water in the chase of a tuna head on a rope and bare his rows of teeth was a frightful thrill. And it was pretty close to shore.
You won't see me snorkeling in these waters, and the water was very cold as well,,,, even with the wet suits that they equipped us with.
Cape Town itself has to be one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Beautiful developed harbor, beautiful beaches, and Table Top Mountain rising in the center of the city, with spectacular views of it from all directions.
From Cape Town, we flew to Johannesburg to group up for a 5 1/2 bus trip into the Bush at Hoedspruit. The ride carried us through the majorly developed Johannesburg area, past vast farmland plains and ultimately through the Mountains to the Bush Country We went from sophisticated five star hotels to mud huts with grass roofs.
The Kapama River Lodge of South Africa Game Reserve was to be the venue for this epic wedding ceremony.
Peeps... by sundown, we were viewing a pride of lions feasting on an antelope kill in the bush. If that isn't cool, then cool doesn't exist.
Over the course of two game drives in successive days, we ran into the Lions, Rhinos, Hippos, an Elephant devouring a Tree that it had knocked down, Giraffes, Water Buffalo, Warthogs, all kinds of Antelope, Monkeys ,a Hyena with a scorpion in its mouth, Jackals, Zebra, Vutures, and numerous other spectacular birds. Needless to say, between the Great Whites and the Safari Big Game it was a wondrous time to view some of the most spectacular of God's Creatures.
But as cool as that experience was, the best was yet to come.
Nathaniel and Raeleen had meticulously planned an African Wedding on Friday night, replete with incredible tribal dancers and a culturally symbolic ceremony out in the bush, in front of a blazing open wood fire. Trying to describe the magnitude and spectacle of the Dances and Drumbeats while reciting traditional Zulu, Coza and Situ chants as well as their tribal costumes is beyond the literary capabilities of your MOAM. That's how freaking awesome it was.
We were transported back to the Main Lodge in the Safari Drive trucks, in our wedding finery but not before a detour of an hour or two when we saw zebras, and needed to disembark to use nature's "behind a tree" urinal. The women were not to be outdone in this endeavor either as they copped a squat for a much more relieved ride trough the dirt road back to the Lodge. I will admit that I was nervous about snakes while I was taking a piss in the Bush.
Nate and Raeleen put together a killer live band for the reception, and they played until 11:00 PM or so, when the disc jockeys came out and took over until 6:00AM.
Your MOAM hit the sack around 2:00AM, having exhausted any dance moves still lurking in my sorry White Man's Repertoire. At weddings like this, if the spirit doesn't move you, then you probably can't move anyway.
It has been an eventful journey trying to return home to Marblehead... which is probably grist for a future Blog post. I also will be resuming the Peep of the Week selections, inspired by people and events of this week.
Peeps... My advice to you is to keep your eyes and ears open for the names of Nathaniel Clarke, Raeleen Rourke Clarke, and their Daughter Nyla Clarke. There is a magical essence about this couple.... someday I will be boasting that I knew them when and I was actually at their Safari Wedding..... and it will be all true. Even if it still seems like a dream to me now.