On Safari.... - Poem by Margaret Kollmer
Dear Diary.....Told you last month about my visitors
from the States. Cousin John and wife Anne who
are members of Earthwatch and both have
Ox.Ph.D.’s.(Degrees don’t bother me much
except in the middle of July when I freeze.)
‘The bush, ’ they said, so off we went, two
boffins and a buffoon. At Skukuza we were met
by a pair of robust golden arms and legs which caused me to hope that with a little bit of luck I would be ‘into’ khaki shorts this summer.
Hoo boy, it felt good to be out in the fresh air, bouncing along the bumpy road dodging thorn trees and other perils. ‘Mala Mala? ’ queried one of the scientists, ‘what a funny name for a landrover.’
Now, you know me when I first enter a strange hotel/bungalow room. Check the place for goggas, mozzies and little short and curlies. Luckily, all was well but mein Gott! as they say in Gstaad, what do I see when I open the bedside drawer? No, NOT Gideon but Catherine Cookson! CATH-erine COOKson! !
The evening drive was exciting and awfully Wilbur Smithish but five hours in the bush was more than enough for one who requires a pit-stop at least every three hours.
It seemed that I was the only one staring grimly into the darkness with thin pinched lips and pale tight thighs. Pshoo! The Relief of Mafikeng was never like this but no way did I want to become known as the spoilsport with the malfunctioning stopcock.
So it was that I left all the future drives to el touristos and spent my own time on the cool verandahs, with many a G & T in hand. Quinine for malaria, savvy?
From my vantage point, I saw much of great interest and soon made friends with an old hyena who took one look at me and burst into derision. That’s what hyenas do. Humans call it laughing. Being quick on the uptake I learned to deride in no time. We got on famously.
It was during one of these moments that I realised that this supremely costly affair was One Big Con. ‘Hy’ and I derided afresh when I mentioned this, with him telling me that my thoughts were ‘nothing new.’
I asked Hy how come everyone who returned from a drive was able to tell us that they’d seen at least two of the big ones and by the time their visit was over, each and every one of them had seen each and every one of the big five. Something rotten in this state of affairs, for sure.
Hy derided uproariously at this, whispering that each night after the last drive one of the rangers would sneak out and herd the Big Five into their ‘allotted’ pens where they would be tied up until morning. Then, just prior to the arrival of the early morning drives, they would once more be set free; thus guaranteeing the tourists viewings of what they had come for.
Of course, added Hy mischievously, the rangers would act out little diversions along the way, perhaps suddenly slamming the gears into neutral and breathily whispering: ‘Look! Spoor! ’ The tourists were much in awe of their guides and marvelled at their uncanny tracking skills. ‘Africa, ’ they’d sigh generously.
Before leaving the reserve, every single khaki-clad visitor had scored a full five out of five. And then, in order to reaffirm the whole thing to all the Maisies and Chucks back home, everyone was given a ‘Certificate of Proof of Having Sighted The Big Five.’
I daresay a Certificate of Spoof would’ve been more apt …if Hy was to be believed : -)
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