Saturday, May 5, 2012

But wait ! There's more !

Nxai Pan - Botswana - 0745 a.m.

Dear Dorothy

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. I am sorry to announce that there is an obstruction on the runway and we will need to make one go around before landing. Thank you for your patience.

So after all that I'm going to stay in camp rhetoric I decide to go on one last game drive last evening. WTF. I'm here and even though I'm going to see the same ole, same ole it sounded better than just killing time. I decided that I was going to be a pig, a nice pig, but I was going to not get the middle seat. One of those "Where would you like to sit?" questions of the other guests and expecting them to say it didn't matter. Then taking the seat I wanted in the first place. Knowing full well no one would be as rude as to say "I want ... that seat" So after the expected response I grabbed a seat in the back at the side.

Cheetah - Nxai Pan - Botswana
Mohane is a different guide than Donald. He said right up front. "We are going to drive fast and stop just long enough to get a few pictures before moving on. Alright?" Praise the lord. The Master Race would stop and look at a single little Tit Mouse for 5 minutes. Describing one another the color of its feet. The hue of its bill and the size of its nostril. I mean - It's a game DRIVE, not a game STOP. Still it was better than the Eskimos only wanting to see big animals.

This group was from Switzerland. Adult Daughter and son in-law and mother and father. Marie, DeDe, Jane and John. Hence known as the Gnomes. The Gnomes were good travel mates the kids spoke English well and would translate for ma and pa. Of course they talked amongst their tribe, but I was included in the conversation. Even though I know I'd be voted off the island the first tribal council it was comfortable on the island while it lasted.

A critter here and a critter there then Kaser said in a low voice - ... cheetah  ... Cheetah? Did he say Cheetah? CHEETAH!!! I looked at my camera and saw I had over 500 shots available and then I looked at the battery level - almost out. Please, oh please camera Gods hang in there for just a little longer. I couldn't find the cat. Kaser had noticed just the ears sticking up in the grass. Then Marie pointed it out to me. There were three of them. Mom and two teen agers. Off the road a bit. Near the edge of my telephotos range for a decent shot, but better than looking at the walls of my room.

He drove us close to the cats and the clicks of the shutters sounded like machine gun fire.  He then got on the radio and called the other guides and let them know of the find. Pretty soon there were three Land Cruisers on the road paralleling the cats. They we hunting. Actually mom was hunting and the kids were learning. There was a Springbok near and I knew it was dinner. But bad news for the cat. The wind shifted and the antelope caught a whiff of cat and that was that. I don't think I wanted to see the actual kill but the stalking, the strike and the aftermath would have been icing on the drive.

Cheetah stalking
After the cats anything other than a lion would have been, and was, anticlimactical. Sundown drinks clinks of glasses and cans in celebration and back to camp before the Park's closing time of 7 pm.

Dinner was the same as always and the conversation touched on the Cheetahs and what a grand surprise to see them. With a full belly I went to bed close to ten pm and was sleeping hard when the 5:30 am wake up yell came. Coffee, muffin and anti-malarial for breakfast before bidding many of the camp mates farewell as they went off to Bain's Baobab and the morning game drive. I did opt out this time. It is going to be a long, long day whether it is 36 or 40 or more hours between beds (unless I can score an overnighter in Paris somehow) and starting the day bouncing around in a Jeep would only make the remained of the day that much harder.

So now it is 8:30. I am room less and have 3 hours before the Wild Blue Wander beckons.

Ladies and Gentlemen the tower has cleared us for landing. Please make sure your seat backs are in the locked and upright position and your carry luggage on is safely stowed away. Welcome back to real life.

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