Safari Journal Part 17

Safari Journal Part 17

Part 17

The guards were dropped off about 2 hours after we arrived. I’m not a gun expert and have no idea what they were carrying but they were big, just as long as a bayonet without the dagger. Having them at the campsite actually made me more afraid than if they were absent. They didn’t speak English and didn’t comfort me. Luckily the night was uneventful.

Morning came quickly and our day was planned already. We would get into a Land Rover and go down into the crater. We had a new driver, one that was familiar with the landscape. Mohammed. Mohammed seemed nice enough at first; we acquainted ourselves with him and asked him questions about what we were going to do.Driving down into the crater was amazing, it was as if you left one country and landed in another. It was early so the fog was near to touching the ground. You couldn’t see anything but a color change. Then as we made our way around the left side we see a black rhino standing in the middle of the field. Within seconds four to five park rangers were in a circle around it. Because of it’s endangered status; no one was allowed to get within a great distance of it. It slowly munched the grass like all of these vehicles were an everyday occurrence. Even though it’s roaming was considered free, it still had to deal with the fumes, the noise and the entrapment. The rhino’s are poached for their horns. The Chinese believe that the horns when grinded down and powdered are a powerful aphrodisiac. If it takes a rhino’s horn to help you get in the mood, brother you are in trouble. Like the Chinese need aphrodisiacs anyway. The poachers cut off the horn while the rhino is still somewhat alive and leave the poor beast to die. The poachers are mostly African, stripping their own land of its natural wonder. I wonder if there is a moment in their hearts that pang every time they slay one? Just like anything else, I am sure it stops hurting and starts becoming routine. Sad.

We drive on. There is a very loud noise to our left. Vultures by the hundreds are squawking and flapping and feeding. It is a dead buffalo and they are crazy for him. I’ve never seen anything like it. Constant movement, one tears a piece of breast meat and 10 others try and rip it from his mouth. They are so big the span of their wings elongates them to three their size. Looking behind them there is the brown of the mountains, the green and yellow of the trees, the haze of the morning and the scarlet of blood all over their bodies. I really can’t describe to you what it was like. Almost like seeing a person outside of a bar being beaten by many, they raped the piece of beef.

No one else, besides myself wants to stay longer, even the birdman. What makes people grossed out by certain things? Why is it disgusting to watch an animal eat & it’s not disgusting to go to war? The war thing was a conversation that lasted about a minute, until I threw my arms up in dismay.

Zebra’s, wildebeest, gazelle, wild dogs, lions, zebras everything is here in the crater. People out numbered the monkeys. We stopped to go to the bathroom and there were two monkeys picking each other’s bugs & eating them. Rolling around without a care in the world. Turning on their side only so the other could find another tasty morsel. The small monkey hands reminded me of a person who sorts letters, flipping fingers through hair follicles. We pass a small hill and on the other side a mother hyena is nursing her young. The little ones don’t even seem to have their eyes open yet. Just a sense that nipple equals food.

We come across another rhino. We are not the only ones, it seems that every rover in sight is here. The drivers, including Mohammed are getting as close as they can. The rhino is noticeably frightened. He or she tries to cut in and out turning one way for a way out and getting stopped by a vehicle. It turns the other way only to be chased down by another. Back and forth with its head until it finally stands still. The rangers must not be aware of this. Mohammed keeps inching closer and closer until I yell at him to stop. Even as I am speaking he moves closer. I finally scream “Stop the fucking car, you’re scaring it”. I go on, and what probably seems like nauseous rambling to Mohammed means very much to me. He says I want you to have a good picture.“I don’t want a GOOD picture if it means this, what are you an idiot?” It seems that the drivers have a little bet between them, because over the radio I hear so and so talking about how close he is and how Mohammed is beaten. This is insane, ever seen those video’s of animals attacking humans. It’s because we are freaking idiots. We don’t own everything. Everything doesn’t bow to us!

After that we stop for lunch. Mohammed doesn’t eat with us he goes to sit with the other drivers. No doubt telling them about the sappy little female in his ranger. I don’t care. Fuck him.

After lunch I am privy to see a lioness with a gazelle in her mouth walking down a hill. She settles in a quiet place underneath a shade tree. From under the brush comes a tiny little cub that starts to eat the flanks of the gazelle. With binoculars I can see the blood all around it’s mouth and it licking happily after each bite. When mealtime is over they both lie down together for a nap. The mother settles first and the cub just like a child fidgets and moves until it has decided that this spot is the best ever, slow yawns & stretches.On to the hippo pool, all of the animals around the water, green reeds, blue water. There is an egret resting on a buffalo’s head. It looks as though the buffalo might move its head, to shake it off, at any time. Upon further inspection the buffalo can’t move at all, he is dead. Because of the buffalos weight when he goes for water and goes just a little to far he gets stuck in the mud. He just dies there, crying out with no one to help. Makes one think twice about being fat and happy doesn’t it? The vultures will slowly eat him until there is no more.

The sun is slowly setting and the last thing we come upon is a salt lake. I really should remember the name, but it escapes me. There are what seems like millions of flamingos. Some tall some short. The smaller are called lesser flamingos, if they knew that they would probably have a complex. Lesser flamingos all getting together to talk about how the big ones aren’t so great and so what if their beaks are bigger. Jim, remember Jim the one I am mad at, takes out his camcorder and films them for some time all the while giving the most repulsive, boring commentary I have ever heard in my life. He is going to use this in one of his classes and I know this. “This is the most boring thing we have done this trip,” I say out loud. His finger reaches the pause button a little to late. “Have you had enough Jim?” “Interesting how they all look exactly the same as the other five hundred we’ve seen isn’t it?” I can actually see irritation. He starts the camcorder again, like he is playing in my movie, the kind where you tell the person not to walk in the woods, not to answer the phone, not to start filming again. Yet he is putty and I am the sculptor. Just as he says “This in incredible” again, I let out an audible, disgusted sigh. Ten years of editing will not make that scene as he wanted it. He can even over dub my voice with his own and he still loses for he will surely put the class to sleep, a small victory for me. Actually this is not small I have made up for his antics concerning the lions in a big way. I puff up.

This night we all go quietly to our tents. I certainly don’t want to talk to Jim and he certainly doesn’t want to talk to me, this is the way I like it. Good night and good riddance you over schooled bag of manure. Don’t underestimate a sly little girl from Ohio.

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