Wild Things

Yet another weekend, yet another honeymoon gone by. Sigh.

You’ll find this lovely painting by H. Muttisse on the wall of the Moondog Cafe (and Book Corner), the official watering hole of Mfuwe International Airport (they sometimes get a plane from Malawi). It is a wonderfully efficient establishment, catering both to tourists who arrive in need of a cold beer before climbing into a landrover and heading for the bush (note, no quotation marks: bush is what safari is about), and also to tourists who get stuck in the hapless situation of a delayed plane. This happened to us on our way out, so we went to hang out at the Moondog, which isn’t strictly a part of the airport; rather, it’s outside next to the carpark, its own little oasis of cold coca-cola and Mosi beer in the African (winter) heat. Given that the airport is about the size of the dairy section in a Wal-Mart, and only on one level so we could comfortably see the arrival of the plane we were expecting to depart in shortly, we didn’t imagine there would be any ambiguity about when we needed to go back into the official waiting area. Nevertheless, as we were chilling in the garden, we were approached by a friendly barman, who informed us that if we were flying on Zambian Airways, we were needed in the airport as there was an “emergency”. Naturally we hurried off, and naturally expecting the worst (ie. never getting out), but naturally the emergency was what we were hoping for: the plane was on its way.

Life goes on in this merry, and not at all unpleasant, rhythm of avoiding disaster in the region of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, where we spent three days thriving on expected (when you’re a tourist) serendipities, not to mention gin and tonic:

Still, I learned an unvariable, and invaluable, thing or two:

1. Wild animals stink

2. Hyenas really stink.

3. Baboons are perverts:

(yes, that is a very small child sliding off mommy’s back as daddy does his thing. And no, there is no certainty that that is, in fact, daddy).

4. When you go on safari you should expect no rest (up at 5.30 every day), nor should you expect to be exempted from crossing a crocodile-infested river on a very small boat. Protests go unobserved. Here’s an attempt at one:

5. All of the above combine to make all of the above a seriously unforgettable experience which you curiously miss as soon as you have been thrown back into the “real” world. (Note the quotation marks).

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