A list of some, but by no means all, of the many animals we were lucky enough to witness while in Africa, and even luckier to recall.
Monthly Archives: September 2011
We haven't seen a family pride yet - until now. Camouflaged within the grass we see some movement, and then one by one a whole family appears: one male, two females, and eight beautiful cubs! Craig reflexively eeowws at the little cubs, and one of the younger ones eeowws back and starts heading towards the truck. I turn to Craig and say, "I'm calling them the Honeymoon Pride!"
Craig and I acknowledge that there are some things here that we're not entirely happy about, and there are some things that are just simply different from what we've known these past couple of weeks. But that was the point of this part of our trip. It wasn't meant to be the same as the first part of our trip; it was meant to be intentionally different. We're settling into a groove here at Elephant Plains: outstanding wildlife viewing, delicious food, a luxurious room, spa treatments. Really, what's not to like?
It feels terribly awkward, and Craig and I are really uncomfortable. You're far enough away from the other guests that you can't really have a conversation with them, and yet you're in a group setting and it feels like you're supposed to socialize. The fire in the middle of our circle, combined with all of us looking across at each other, makes me feel like I'm on a reality TV show and that there is going to be a vote to decide which one of us is going to be thrown into the fire pit. We feel like we're on display; like we're being watched. You might say we feel like the animals do when a safari vehicle drives by.
As Anne's regaling us with her favorite Harare tourist and driving tips we find ourselves behind an omnibus, and as the bus approaches the intersection in front of us it comes to a stop at the light, which is red, forcing us to do the same. "Oh no," Anne says, "this isn't good." Too close to the bus' back bumper, with another car approaching us from behind, we can't easily navigate around it. So instead, we start scanning the nearby bushes, nervously waiting for the inevitable attack on our car. "This is not good at all, ya."
This is the part of the story where I'd like to say that I spent the night dreaming of lions. That King Milo came to see me, and beside the river outside our tent, amidst the roars of the other lions in his kingdom, we sat and talked about a great many things. Secrets that the wind has shared with him that he's now sharing with me.
Amai has a good gig going on. As she's walking, she picks up branches, grass, and rocks with her trunk, and flings her trunk back to us offering whatever she's picked up from the ground as a gift. Of course, the gift is offered with the expectation that she will get one in return in the form of a treat. So the handler takes the rock or branch and then gives her some feed, and a few times I get to put the feed into her trunk, too. I am completely charmed by her antics and am grinning from ear to ear.
The wind and, especially, the lack of lions roaring have put me on edge. We only have two days left at Antelope Park, and the inevitable pull of having to soon leave this place has left me feeling unsettled. I don't do well with goodbyes, and I'm especially unhappy to be nearing the end of this leg of our African journey.
When we get back to camp, it looks like the staff are getting ready for some big shindig on the main lawn. There are banners up, tables out with AP swag, the Ingonyama dancers are waiting in the wings, the staff are dressed up in their best khakis, and the elephants are wandering around. Elephants? We've never seen them in camp before. This must be something really big.
"What's the forecast today? Rice, potatoes, some vegetables (probably carrots and peas, or maybe creamed spinach), chicken or beef (or chicken and beef), salad, and some dessert." You might think that when traveling to Africa you may lose a little weight. You certainly aren't concerned about gaining weight. It's not like going to Italy, where you know you're going to gorge yourself on pasta and gelato, washed down with copious amounts of wine. But thank goodness we were engaged in daily physical labor and long walks in the hot sun, because in the heart of Zimbabwe we ate like kings and queens.