Dear diary, today was a rather special day. Despite the fact that someone was killed by an enraged elephant, Serena agreed to go on a walking safari with me. And that takes balls I must say. It’s been so much fun being with her already. You know, normally I have to watch what I say with girls or hide certain sides of my character but with Serena I can simply be me and it feels terrific. I think this is the reason why we are still best friends till this day. I can honestly tell you that I would’ve been a lot more embarrassed for example if I had to run away from a warthog the way I did yesterday if I was in the presence of someone I am less comfortable with. Man, there’s this constant struggle between being the hunter as a man and being a sensitive human. It’s things like this that I can discuss with Serena and that makes me grateful. Vice versa I hope that she feels the same about being able to share womanhood. In any case; I’ve learnt a lot from her.
The walking safari was great. We saw a lot of elephants from a distance. One time a baby elephant got a little too close and we had to run away before our scent hit upon the trunk of his mother. If she had caught our scent we would have faced a similar fate as that of the poor lady that was trampled whilst gathering firewood. We saw some hippos enjoying their cool water in the small pools of water that we passed by. We also saw a lot of footprints of animals like lions and buffalo and the guide took his time to show feces of the animals as well. I had forgotten how different the feces of elephants look from that of a hippo for instance and how you can tell what an animal has eaten by the structure of the substances. It really is rather interesting.
We must have looked so comical; the guide walking in front trying to tell us all kinds of interesting detail with us in the middle paying attention to him and all the sound around us and to be followed by our very own guard with his AK47 riffle and two bullets. Serena said that we looked very colonial in this way and I must agree. To make it worse is the fact that I was wearing khaki clothes because I wanted to blend in as much as possible with the surroundings. It brought Serena the giggles and what made it worse was the fact that the guide stopped by every tree or plant that was a supposed aphrodisiac. Believe you me, there were a lot of such flora around. My God it seems the world even in the bush simply revolves around sex.
We had some tea and biscuits for lunch and after that we were given a real royal treat. One of the most rare animals in the wild showed himself to us. It was an aardvark! These animals are so rare in sighting and so I felt really, really special. The animal was much taller than I had expected. It was so exciting that even the guide was a bit speechless at our luck of seeing this animal. I was truly happy that Serena had consented in going on this walking safari with me and I can tell that she is happy too! And man, the river banks and all the colourful birds are truly a sight to see!
At night we found out that we were to camp in tents at a different site than from the main base. We were in the bush and the lodge had sent a special cook for us. He had made a fantastic meal with grilled warthog (I felt quite vengeful here since one had attacked me earlier on this trip), some baked potatoes and some veggies. On top of that, the cook came equipped with some bottles of a great red wine. Ah, he made himself very valuable in this small camp of ours.
Serena and I talked a bit under the wonderful stars. The guide whose name is Sam, the cook named Edgar and the guard named Oscar joined us in the conversation. We spoke of wildlife, of life in the bush and how things are going with Zambia in general. Thanks to a lot of exposure to tourists, these guys seemed to know exactly where the country needed to be headed. It was heartwarming to have had this chat so far away from so-called civilization. Good night.
Today was a rather interesting day I should say. Chris wanted to go on a walking safari, and I’d never done this sort of thing before, so I was really excited. After hearing about the elephant having killed that poor woman, I have to say I was slightly frightened, but I think her death made me more sad than scared. It was a very early morning again and we woke up before sunrise to get ready for the safari. I knew I’d need a bath again after the safari, but I find that if I don’t take a bath in the morning anyhow, I cannot function for the rest of the day. Chris on the other hand was like ‘hey, we’re gonna sweat the whole way through. I’ll just come back and have a bath after the safari!’. Stinky boy that one. Hehehe.
My eyes were all big and swollen because of lack of sleep. I love my sleep and I need about 8 hours of it to get through the day without any complaints. Lately I’ve been getting only about 5 hours of sleep thanks to our early wake up calls and Chris’s snoring. I wonder if they make stuff like anti-snoring tablets or something. Chris could surely use them. Anyone who gets married to him is going to have one hell of a hard time; that I can assure you. That said, Chris is the best guy I’ve ever known. I feel completely at ease with him – like I don’t have to pretend to be someone else. I can look absolutely crazy and ugly in front of him and not get so worried. I can reveal loony sides of myself to him without the fear of being judged. So when it comes to his snoring, I have to say that’s a really small complaint to make about someone who is this awesome. And then I realise, I think I just praised him too much. Yikes!
So let’s get back to the safari. We were with a guide through the walking safari, along with guards. Of course I like going around places myself, but with something like this, you need a guide and a few guards. Yes, Chris and I love animals dearly but I doubt either one of us would survive if any wild animal wanted to be a bit playful with us. We looked really hilarious – and I think I just wanted to start laughing most of the time. It seemed so colonial – these two ‘different’ looking people being escorted by guys with guns. It didn’t help that Chris was dressed in khaki. That was really the highlight. I made sure to take lots of photographs of him so that I can tease him for the rest of my life about those clothes. Hahahaha.
The walk was brilliant and I really loved the fresh air. The day was just starting so it was cool, and the sun wasn’t too high up in the sky, and everything seemed so calm and relaxed. We went for a while without any animal sightings, and I thought maybe we wouldn’t have any luck today. But boy, I was wrong. We saw elephants! I think I was particularly taken with this baby elephant which was just too cute to ignore. Chris however, reminded me that we should not get too close otherwise we could be steamrolled by its mother. Yeah, that’s definitely NOT the way I’d like to go – crushed and flattened by an elephant. We saw lots of lion footprints but unfortunately didn’t see any lions.
A funny part of the day was when the guide stooped and picked up feces of various animals. I could see how interested Chris was. He even held the feces in his hands and was discussing what the animal might have eaten and what the animal was, most likely. Kind of reminded me of the tea-leaf reading session in Harry Potter, when they try to figure out what the shape of the tea-leaves in the cup indicate. I didn’t hold the feces in my hand – I mean yeah of course I’m interested in knowing what kind of animals roam around and what animal that might be, but reading feces, hmmmm, not my forte. Also, I don’t think I really want to see all the digested bits and go oooh and ahhh about them. But maybe that’s just me.
I don’t know what the guide thought Chris and I were – probably a couple – because he seemed to think we would be very interested in aphrodisiac plants. The first two or three times it was alright, but subsequent stops at every aphrodisiac plant really started getting a bit awkward. Thank goodness, by the time he was showing the 17th or 20th aphrodisiac plant, it was lunchtime.
The highlight of the day was definitely after lunch – when we saw an aardvark. It’s so cool when you see something this rare in the wild! Makes you feel like you just discovered something. This definitely put a smile on our faces for the rest of the day. I mean – how many times do you get to see something like that?
So that brought us to the end of the safari. Chris and I freshened up and sat under the stars after dinner. I think this had to be the most memorable day in South Luangwa. Tomorrow we head back to Lusaka, and though I’m happy we will be going back, at the same time I feel this terrible emptiness. As a Third Culture Kid, I guess this is how life feels practically all the time.
We had a chat with the guide, guard and cook for a bit and it was nice to have an interesting conversation with the local people in the area. After they left us alone, I just hugged Chris and counted my blessings that I could be here with him and enjoy some of the best moments of my life. You don’t get truer friends than Chris, that’s for sure.
Move to Chapter 8