The vivacious blue-eyed girl that welcomes you at the Thornybush River Lodge is Bri-Alayne and she has her very own khaki-fever story to tell!
“It’s very real, it’s totally unpredictable and it will catch you completely off guard.” says Bri, who said good-bye to an exciting life on Broadway, after being struck by the life-changing and seemingly incurable fever, whilst on holiday in Kwazulu Natal in 2017!
Bri has a background in theatre, culinary arts, and high-end event management, having performed since the age of twelve on some of the most well-known stages around the world. In later years she went into producing shows. Her theatre background stood her in good stead, not only to open the River Lodge Jerusalema challenge, but also for her new life in lodge management.
Tyrone, her husband of nearly three years is a qualified level two, full trails guide. He was quick to lure the American Broadway star with his sharp wit and passionate stories about the bush. He takes up the story. “Despite being warned about fraternising with the guests, it was love at first sight for me” he said, “I needed to impress her quickly.”
So, appropriately clad in his macho khaki gear, a Leatherman emblematically attached to his belt and with a weapon on board, he felt suitably equipped to demonstrate his supreme manliness and bush knowledge to this sweet American girl who was fast stealing his heart. They were not five minutes into their first game drive, when Bri proudly announced she could see a rhino.
“No, no!” Tyrone declared, embarking on an intense lecture “you will not find rhinos here, they live in crashes and like wide-open spaces, grasslands and savannah habitats where they can graze. They like short grasses and need to be close to water as they are known to drink twice a day. They also need to wallow to protect their skin from the sun and ward off parasites.
They do not like these metamorphic rocky areas,” he continued fervently “I am sure it is just a rock that that you can see. Many new tourists believe they are seeing animals, when in fact it is just a rock!”
‘’Well this rock is on the move!’’ declared Bri in her broad American accent, and with that a black rhino, the rarest of all, came bounding out from behind a scrub-thorn thicket to smear egg all over Tyrone’s reddening face!
Exactly 365 days later and after many cross-Atlantic WhatsApp messages and phone calls, Bri was holidaying in South Africa again. She woke up to find Tyrone kneeling beside her bedside with a mug of coffee in one hand, and engagement ring in the other. She said ‘YES’ to both!