2.14 am …….I can’t believe I am camping out in a small two man tent in the middle of the African bush and there isn’t even a fence between us and them … the predators. How did I talk myself into this? Even more curious… how did I talk my sister into this. She hates spiders and creepy crawlies so much that she sprayed our tent with DDT and now we can hardly breathe.
This wasn't what I had in mind
2.35 am ….. Holy cow! What is that noise? Sounds like hyenas. Oh… there goes the garbage can. They must have found the leftovers from the barbecue. Ugh, I hate hyenas – I know that sounds irrational but they look so primitive and evil.
3.05 am….. Hell’s teeth. What’s that shouting. It sounds like Peter. He’s in the other tent with the kids. What should I do? He’s banging on the side of the tent and shouting “Voetsak” (get away in Afrikaans). Is someone trying to break in. How do you break into a tent anyway? Shouldn’t I rush over there and save my babies….. mmmmmm …. where’s that Tiger Mom in me? Oh yeah – we’re in Africa, not India. So where is the Lion Mom in me? Hang on a minute. It’s gone quiet again. He must have scared them away. I’ll be brave and stick my head out of the tent and shout over to him. zzzzzzzip zzzzzip – “Are you ok Pete?” “Yes, go back to sleep”. Sleep? Who is he kidding?
3.15 am ….. so what happened to the Ranger. He said he was going to take the rifle with him and if we needed anything in the night just shout. He must be as deaf as a post. Shame such a young man too! Just hope we don’t get a herd of marauding elephant through here.
3.45 am …… I wonder how Trish manages to sleep with her hat on. She’s had it on all night. Says it keeps the spiders from falling on her head. Yawn….
4.15 am….. Oh how lovely – an owl in the tree over us hooting away. At least it will keep us company.
4.50 am ….. Wish I had the rifle. I would shoot that bloody owl.
5.10 am….. Hang on.. I think dawn is coming. I can see a pinky light through the mosquito netting of the tent. Maybe we can get up now. zzzzzzip zzzzzip – Oh wow look it IS daytime. And here comes our trusty ranger with his rifle. “Hi! What a night hey?”…. He looks puzzled “Really? I dunno. I had my wisdom teeth out yesterday so I took two percocet and slept all night. What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?”
I’m homesick. That’s weird … because I am home. Canada is my home now. So why am I homesick and for where? I was born in England ……. nah…… not homesick for England.
I grew up in South Africa – and that’s the problem. I have this sudden longing for the bush. They say you can take the girl out of the bush but you can’t take the bush out of the girl.
There’s something healing about being out in the African bush – and yet it can be a harsh place. Nature rules and there are the hunters and the hunted, the victors and the victims. To see a lioness stalking her prey is thrilling and yet some part of you always wants the poor antelope or zebra to get away. Run! Run! You feel like shouting as the poor buck zig zags across the veldt in panic. The lioness is clever, fast and strong and the antelope seldom wins.
On my last trip to the bush in Sabi Sands Game Reserve we came across a huge pride of lion after the kill. The huge black-maned male could barely move he was so full. He lay with his belly distended, his paws flopping in the air, right in the middle of the track, dozing in the midday sun.
Oh I ate too much
His pride lay around him licking and cleaning and grooming and you could still see the traces of blood on their whiskers and chins. It was a hot day and our ranger knew that they would not move for hours but they would be thirsty later on. We would return after sunset.
Sure enough once the sun had gone down and that strangely fast coldness had descended on the bush we found the pride again – this time stirring from their slumber. As if in answer to an unspoken signal they slowly made their way to their feet and one by one ambled off down the track. Our ranger told us there was a water hole some way in the distance and we followed in the landrover with the large floodlight on the front. The light did not seem to bother them. From time to time one of them would stop and turn back, gazing at us, eyes lighting up in the headlamps of the vehicle. More curious than threatening.
Finally they reached the water-hole. All the females lined up – like a Radio City chorus line – along the edge of the waterhole. With beautiful symmetry they hunched down on their powerful forequarters and daintily lapped up gallons and gallons of water.
We sat in the landrover – speaking in whispers – thrilled and awed by Nature’s beauty.
Heads down ladies
Oh yes – I AM homesick for the bush.