Safari Journal – Part 15
Today we drive through the park. We (the Americans) have full control on were we stop and when. We see a good picture opportunity or we have to pee, we just tell Gebra & he signals to the driver. Jim just happens to be an ornithologist. He has come to Africa because it has over three hundred species of birds. He carries much information on the subject but has come here to actually learn about them. Things are here that are not in textbooks, the way that a particular species glides or the meeting of superb starlings. Textbooks have pictures and stories, but nothing like actually seeing the quick stop of the wings or the motion in the feed. Jim and I have gotten along fine until this moment, this day, this drive.
Early in the afternoon we come upon some lions. There are nine. They seem to be resting in the hot sun, but they are alert not sleeping. They are females and young males I would have to say a year old but not much more. They are looking to the right about every ten minutes. They casually look then get up and move about 30 feet that way. They then nestle down and chat nothing that you could hear but I imagine that their movements are body language. They seemed to me to be continuously looking and moving to the right. In the truck, so many minutes have passed that to the others the beauty and wonder has passed. I am still in a quiet place. I can feel something. Something that is known but not to all. I can read the lions. There is something near. Jim pulls his binoculars from his eyes and says “Ok” out loud. Everyone seems to settle back in his or her seat as if ready to go on. I ask a question to Gebra to lengthen to stop. I am not the most mysterious person in the world so Jim knows what I am doing. I have interrupted his bird lectures to many times this trip with my wonderings on cats.I ask for a few more minutes, I know that something is about to happen. Gebra says that even if they are hunting, a kill could take hours. I find myself in an unhappy, unfulfilled place.
The truck starts to move. I sit down ready to unleash hell on Jim. I say nothing. As the truck turns a bend I see an African Buffalo stuck down in the reeds. The reeds are blocking him from the sight of the lions but nothing can stop his scent from lingering to their noses. I knew there was something going down! We stop again for a few minutes and then Gebra decides to go on. At this very moment I dislike Jim, I dislike birds and I dislike the thought of impatience. I know that the rest of the day I will be in a solitary place because I will not speak to anyone. They have all let me down, in a big way. What is so freaking cool about birds that they are favored over lions? I feel now like I did the right thing and that I did the wrong thing. I knew we would all be together for the next week and I refrained from saying “ I paid for my trip just like you paid for your trip, Jim”. In a little place in his mind he had won and in a big place in my mind I had lost. Of course now begins my revenge. It won’t be today, I will wait until he has totally forgotten about this incident. I don’t fare well in losing. I have built my life around winning. I didn’t know it then but the perfect opportunity arises itself a few days later at the crater.
Later that day we go to a kopje to eat lunch. There are several Massai paintings that are over one hundred years old. They had painted pictures of their shields and animals. It was a nice place to stop. When you climbed to the top you could see for miles. In just a few minutes the sky started to turn dark. It was a beautiful deep gray color. The contrast of the warm, gold color of the ground, to the horizon where the angry sky started was picture perfect. The winds picked up and it turned colder. We were going to stop at a portable shower on the way back to camp, so we decided to leave before the storm came on. The shower facility was a concrete structure with a rusty head as a water giver. The water was cold, the air was colder. I stood under the ice pellets trying to wash my hair. I cursed and yelled several times. What an ending to an already trying day.