Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gnawing and bitching

Xigera Camp - Botswana

Dear Dorothy

After I finished the last entry I went back to the tent (I was going to say room) and flopped on the bed for about an hour. And then had a bit of conversation with Ben the food and Beverage Manager about the world's situation. In other words - nothing much. Just words floating back and forth between mouths and ears.

Then tea time a mushroom crustini and a little vegetable thing like a muffin only not dry, maybe more akin to a mini quiche. Then one of the guests was having a birthday and they brought out a cake for him. Bobby had told me and I assume the Eskimo that we were leaving early because there was a nearby lion kill of a warthog. Well we had to wait for the baby Eskimo get done with her cake of course and she has never heard that maybe, just maybe other people are in the world besides herself. So instead of leaving early we left on the regular time.

The lion kill WAS really close to camp. They had been in the camp in the morning and hadn't moved all that far by late afternoon. Our Rover got there first and we had a front row seat to one particular Leo trying to get into the brain of poor ole Wonder Warthog (an old children's cartoon). The skull is/was so thick that all the guy was getting was tired jaws. The sound was similar to a big dog gnawing on a leg bone from the butcher shop. Only on this one it was covered in hide and fur and had foot long tusks. Every now and again he would get his front teeth into a piece of hide and try to pull it off. Alas it was in vain for him. As he was chewing those tusks framed his face and I could hear his mom saying "Be careful. You'll poke an eye out with that thing.” He walked away from it and a lioness came over and gave it a try with pretty much the same results.
The lion and the warthog
Maybe an hour was spent at the kill and still Nanook-ette of the north still didn't have enough pictures. We headed to the area where wild dogs were last seen and couldn't find a paw print in the sand. Bobby did give it a pretty good try, in between cantering to those who prefer their animals to be four legged and large. Well that isn't exactly right "Awww .. cuuuttteee" did rate kinda high on the list as well. He thought a single male lion might be in the area and the dogs had traipsed off to safer lands.

So, back to camp with a stop at a hippo river for "Sundowners". As soon as we dismounted another Rover drove up and I glanced back just in time to see Gary, of Gary and Margret toss everything he had eaten for the past two weeks over the side, and we have eaten ALOT. I put it down to car sickness. Margret later said it was a reaction to the Malarone anti-malarial medication. Poor guy was so sick he didn't make it to dinner or this morning's game drive. He must be a pretty sick puppy, because he did not strike me as someone who needed pampering.

After sundowner we went off to find the lions again. This time in the dark with the red spot light. We found them as they were moving off to a different locale. One of the lions was still carrying the fully fur covered head in her mouth. The jackals will get it eventually and crack it open and get the goodies inside.

A short wait back at the bar before dinner was served. I sat next to Ben and across from Margret at one end away from the Eskimos and the family with the maple leafs on their luggage. Ben is interesting. Former psychologist who quit that work (I don't remember why) and then started as a dishwasher to make ends meet. Got under the wing of a Michelin starred chef and learned how to cook and then became a personal chef to a billionaire. He cooked for and met the Queen of England and Mister Hillary Clinton. He said that he could certainly see what Monica saw in him. When you talked to him there was no one else in the room. Bill was totally focused on him the entire interchange.

Margret had also met Bill Clinton. She worked on "The Hill" (the Capitol) in what capacity I never found out. Absent Gary was with big pharma. The conversation was one of the best I've had on this sojourn. Dinner was beef. Only not cow beef, Springbok beef. That is about as close as I'm going to get to an endangered species dinner plate. Frankly it was in a spiced tajine and after the first bite totally forgot that it was anything besides moo.

After dinner bed. I got into bed and then remembered MY anti-malarial. Not the first time this trip. Being a child of the sixty's I can pop a pill without water so well that if there was an Olympic sport in pill swallowing I would get a silver medal at least. In the middle of the night I had a pain in my stomach so bad if I was home I would have thought of seeing a doctor the next morning. I downed a Prilosec and three Tums and eventually it subsided. Didn't disappear but was manageable enough to go back to sleep. This entire trip I've had pain in my stomach. Kind of like a block sitting there. Today while talking with Robin about Gary about his illness she said "I wonder if he was taking it with food?” My pill bottle says to take it with food, but we all know I am way too smart to follow every micro managing direction of everything. I've always taken it just before or soon after bed. Forget this food, shit. What a concept!! Maybe I should try it, eh?

Lions playing

Morning came. Breakfast went. Game drive occurred sans one. Robin slept in. I sat in the front seat behind Bobby and he sort of gave me his divided attention for much of the drive. We saw several lion tracks but no carnivore critters. A couple Kudus and the usual smattering of prey animals. Sharon shot that same picture she had been shooting all along. The one where we had to stop every 100 feet to shoot the same shot that she has 100 duplicates from the previous 100 meter stops. Never did see a lion today though, nor a wild dog.

I sound bitter don't I?

A little after ten we boarded the Land Rover for one last ride to the airport. Of course there - was - a wait involved, not from me. The airplane was waiting for us at the strip. Another 208B. I gave Bobby the obligatory tip and said "Thank you for allowing me a small part of Sharon's safari." He smiled and said "You are welcome." I guess my subtle sarcasm didn't work too well. So I said "Maybe next time you can include me in the safari". This he got and nodded before turning away.

 I got the seat behind the pilot and mentally helped him fly it. I could do it of course if he had a sudden heart attack. I have played Microsoft Flight Simulator and only crashed 50% of the time. In the real thing, No sweat.  Fortunately I didn't have to use my finely honed skills on this trip.

We landed in Xigera Camp and the Eskimos and I deplaned. I knew it was coming, but had hoped they might forget to get off at the right stop. No such luck. The guy who picked us up said "I will be your guide for the next three days. Theresa you will be going with Chico who you will meet later. Could that be angels singing? I knew the Messiah was coming some day. I didn't know he would take the form of a black Botwasnian.

Singers met us at the dock of the water based camp and after the obligatory camp instructional we headed to our tents. Mine is the one on the end, about 550 steps (yes I counted them) from the main salon. The room is a duplicate of the others. Solar powered so no hair dryer, but multi plugged receptacles for laptops and cameras. They even wash your undies for you.

Tea time is approaching and I am now current on my bitching so I guess I'll close this for later.

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