Tuesday, October 4, 2005

A wee break

We whiled away most of the afternoon watching the show, with zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, and heaps of other creatures making guest appearances. Then, time to dress for the drive and dinner, in dungarees and warm jackets... no stiletto heels allowed.

We cruised around the southern end of the park for this drive, looking for lion. Although we didn’t come across any, we did see a bit of everything else -- the rhinos again, gnu, klipspringer (a tiny little mountain goat bounding around on some rocks), a vulture ...and, yes, a dead giraffe, or what was left of him. Long legs blackened from the sun, chest cavity ripped open and empty, and... oh, stop, wait, it’s almost dinner time. Let’s not spoil our appetites!

We stopped for sundowners (cocktails at sunset) and a pee break for some of the ladies.

WHAT a production! Trying to find a bush big enough to hide behind, but not too far away (don’t want to get eaten by a lion). And of course it’s still early spring here, so no leaves to speak of on any of the bushes. VERY difficult camouflage problem. It was all a source of great hilarity. And as it turned out, Carol HAD worn stiletto heels (she’s a gorgeous creature, but simply can’t “dress down”) so she had a bit of difficulty getting a firm footing out there in the sandy soil. Oops. Fell over. Then Karine got grass down her trousers, and someone else wee’d on her pants. Generally speaking, it’s a good thing we girls don’t spend too much time in the bush! Big shortage of port-o-potties.

Suddenly, it was growing completely dark, so Jim got out his spotlight. He cast it around left, right and center, looking for... eyes. Animal eyes reflect the light back at you, and they really glow out of the pitch black. You are simply amazed at how much wildlife is out there in the dark, looking at you.

We saw darling “bush babies”, which are tiny little monkeys the size of your fist. They jump around in the bushes, and can leap 9 meters! Jim told us that you can catch one if you leave a sock hanging in the bush overnight. The next morning, you’ll find a bush baby sleeping in it. (I think this is where all those socks go when they disappear from the washing machine at home. Commandeered by monkeys.) With all this leaping about in the bush, the bush babies need to have very sticky grips. They accomplish this by urinating on their hands (probably just like the ladies did at the pee break!?!) so they can get a better hold on the branches.

And then, off to dinner -- a bush braai, another dinner out of doors, under the stars. All the tables were set up again, with torches flickering all about, candles on tables with white tablecloths, and a divine buffet. We washed our hands (thank goodness, girlfriends!) and sat down to enjoy a marvelous dinner with all our bush buddies.

Speaking of bush buddies, one of the acquaintances we didn’t want to run into again was... a cobra. Just as we drove up to the braai, Jim shone his red spotlight down at the ground, and there was a snake slithering along in the dust. It was a spitting cobra, sliding across the road.

I never thought I was particularly afraid of snakes... but I think that’s because I’d hardly ever seen one. Certainly not in the wild. I mean, all you have to do is never EVER go into the herpetology building at the zoo, and there, you’ve saved yourself a lot of terror! I was rather concerned, as this cobra looked like it might be headed back toward the lodge. My cottage, maybe. Hopefully not for the tree above my shower.... euhhhhhh.

And finally, back to the thatched cottage, and the lovely bed with the mosquito netting. Another wonderful night’s sleep. Though I did wake up once, thirsty for a glass of water. But honestly, I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. Thinking about that cobra. Lurking. Under the bed? sssssss pssssssss ....shiverrrrrrrrrr.

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