About three weeks ago we had a very special event at Inverdoorn. An engagement. Engagements are rare at the lodge, which is one of the reasons they are so special, but it wasn't my first one. I am happy to say that this was my third cheetah engagement and I'm even happier to say that they were all successful.
I always love it when people choose to get engaged on a cheetah interaction, because they choose these beautiful animals to be part of their big day, which to me has a deeper meaning. It's a sign of appreciation and acknowledgment of their beauty. A cheetah's elegance, beauty and calmness just suit an engagement. And the calmness really helps out the nervous guy who knows what is about to happen. The purring just works its magic.
One of the special things about a cheetah interaction with an engagement is that you get to know your guest in a very special way. You get to see them during one of the most important, emotional and happiest events in their life. And you will always remember those moments. There are so many guests that pass through Inverdoorn, and meeting a couple at such an important point in their life is always unique.
This engagement was very special. Craig and Sandra were wonderful guests to have. They were both so interested and passionate about what we do, which the whole team always enjoys. They made everybody feel so comfortable in their presence.
I met Craig the first day he arrived. While we spoke about the engagement and how everything would work I could already see the excitement and how nervous he was. But also how thankful he was for the opportunity to have Velvet by his side when he said the four big words "Will you marry me?"
The next morning was a different story. Christo had already told me that Craig was very nervous, since he was running around the lodge at 5AM to hand over the ring to me. Craig was not himself. He was so nervous and I think he almost didn't recognise me when he walked into the office later that day. Obviously his thoughts were somewhere else.
When Craig and Sandra arrived at the dam for the interaction I was really surprised by Craig's acting skills, trying not to show how nervous he actually was. Sandra was super relaxed and happy. I tried not to give anything away, but I was obviously also nervous and excited. To be part of an engagement, especially for guests, is a big responsibility and an honour. You really do not want to mess anything up and you want to try and make it as perfect as possible.
I felt so sorry for Craig and really tried to hurry up with Velvet's story that I like to tell on interactions. I can only imagine how he must have felt and how much he wanted the big moment to arrive.
Finally I was finished and Sandra and Craig came to pet Velvet, who had the ring tied around her neck. I waited patiently for Sandra to see the ring. She needed a little help from Craig who, pointing at the ring, asked "Look here. What is that?" And then he finally asked, in a very calm voice, "Will you marry me?" She said yes and a weight fell from Christo's and my shoulders, but the biggest weight was lifted from Craig's. You could see the relief in his face. Afterwards, Craig and Sandra enjoyed champagne and Christo took beautiful photos of them going for their first walk with a cheetah after being engaged.
I am very glad everything went well and that Craig and Sandra were so happy with the engagement. I would like to add that the whole team at Inverdoorn wish to thank Craig and Sandra for the beautiful letter they sent. We love to get feedback from our guests, especially when it is so personal. After receiving it, I printed it and handed it to Carmen, our Lodge Manager, to show the staff. She told me they love to get letters like that. Some of the staff members even cut the parts about them out of the letter and hung them in their house.
Thank you very much Craig and Sandra. We wish you all the best. And hope there will be many more happy engagements at Inverdoorn.