as it happens...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


I’m 30 years young, but some 23 years ago I was adorning my bedroom walls with hundreds of photos, posters and clippings of the world’s animals. My favourites were the big cats and I made a promise to myself that one day, I would find some of these beasts in their natural environment. The only thing I’m amazed at is how it took me so many years to get to African pastures red…

Africa Africa Africa…where do I start with how I feel that your within my every breath, and in my thoughts on a daily basis. I am starting to feel that the phrase African time is settling in. I’m back on Louis time…it’s similar to Cornish time and Jamaican time but it has its own style. I had planned only a few days in Jozi and wanted to do it London style…hahaha yeah what was I thinking, my time in Jozi extended to over a week in the end and there was absolutely no way I was leaving without going on safari. I was panicking a bit as I couldn’t afford the tour prices and most certainly wasn’t about to settle for a lion park, no way, I needed the raw deal, the real McCoy. It’s amazing when things come together; my Dad’s cousin lives in Jozi and we hadn’t managed to link up yet, so it was decided She would take me on safari.

We left early but were apparently not in any specific rush, through my excitement I took deep breaths and allowed myself to be in Liz and Lance’s capable hands. ‘Do they realise how excited I am? 23 years of expectations excited….deep breath Mr Masai... the animals aren’t gonna go anywhere they will wait pon your arrival…deep breaths Mr Masai…’

Life can be beautiful in the way it presents moments of time in the appropriate manner. That morning I got to know a different part of the Michel family and it’s became apparent that I’m the last of the blood line, discovering that fact on a trip that explores the endangered species of the African continent humbles me, as I also hold an endangered last seed.

Anyway back to the animals yo, Liz in the back, Lance on the wheel and me sat staring eagle-eyed out the window.

 ”Woah, woah. Back up Lance” and there sat a beautiful giraffe, framed perfectly by foliage, legs folded under, a rare sight, as they spend most of their time standing up. And I’d wanted to arrive two hours ago…huh and have missed this…not a chance…blessed to arrive as we mean to go on. After 4 hours or so of driving around the park we had seen giraffes, zebras, hippos, elephants, lots of birds, ostriches, warthogs, impala, rhinos, and wilder-beast amongst others, but no lions and time was running out. We had one hour until the gate closed and we wouldn’t be allowed out of the park. Secretly I think each of us didn’t mind the idea of a lock-in, an almost heated debate of the route for our last hour ended with what resulted in being the right route. We pulled up alongside a 4x4, I think we were in fact the only vehicle to not be, ours was a Kia…jokes…anyway a rather tipsy burnt South African rugger bugger peered out.

“You seen any lions from your direction?”
”Nope, have you?”.
“Nope, which means they that way.”
“Cool, well shall we investigate then.”
“After you”
”Lovely lovely”

If I could measure my excitement on a Richter Scale then you may have felt tsunami waves on UK shores, no joke. A few yards up the road and we started seeing passengers in other vehicles peering out through binoculars and camera lenses that I swear you could have made property down-payments with.

“So I’m presuming there must be something out there don’t you think Lance?”
“Shall we pull up?”
“That’s a splendid idea hombres, binoculars please”

I sat up on the window legs dangling into the car, a rainbow had formed above us, in fact I lie there were two, it was heavy drop rain, the kind that if your walking you actually dodge the drops, the sun was still beaming, dark dark clouds meeting blue skies, creating a memorable purple light; Liz commented on this being a monkey’s sky.

“Okay guys, so there is a rhino charging some lionesses into the bush…I cant see them anymore but, by Jah Jahs there is the king”…(salute)…

From that moment on I sat in awe watching the lioness return from her chase to lovingly rub face with her king and walk on as he waited patiently, assessing the rhino situation, some 15 minutes passed and the lion moved onwards until I couldn’t see him anymore, I didn’t know where the lioness had gone and time was chomping away…

“Woaaaah Louis, the lioness are right next to the car!”

Shit Lance wasn’t lying, two lioness walked past and we awaited the king to tread the same path. Another 10 minutes passed and we reluctantly had to hit the dirt road to the exit, but even that wasn’t uneventful, we saw lots more animals including a jackal which is a rare sight.

Our trip was timed to perfection, thanks for African time, thanks for the best safari ever and bless for getting to know a new family member.

I can happily return to Capetown now…

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