Etosha also translates as big dry white place. Not as impressive as land of mirages, but not inaccurate either.
It's hot here. Very very hot. So hot. But we'll get to that. First, let us look over the morning game drive, shall we? Here we headed out, and were told about the various animals, having it explained to us how there are a number of elephants, some rhinos, way too many springbok, and some very rare leopards – the problem being that in the best situations they're nearly impossible to spot, because they're in the trees, or lying down in the grass, nearly invisible. For five hours we drove seeing a number of species, but most of what we saw was soon forgotten – As we talked, and took up time we – SLAM! The breaks were hit and people went flying who were not firmly seated. What was it? What was there? People were tired – people were groggy – leopard! In the road!
People jumped to their feet, grabbed cameras, fought for windows, shoving people too and fro, and pushed their lenses through the plastic. Some windows popped out accidentally in the rush. Jerky driving and crash stopping had us stalking the animal for some time, as cameras were switched to burst mode, and postcard quality images were taken of the animal, so hard to spot at the best of times. Chef Mia was our good luck charm, as she had been the whole trip. We could all now quite comfortably check off leopard from our list of the big five.
Poor Anne's feet were crushed my mine during these photographing minutes.
We headed back to camp, fully aware of our great success, and beaming with pride, delight, and joy. And then I hopped into the shower fully dressed.
It's hot. So hot.
I headed to the new waterhole at this new Etosha camp site (it has a tower?) and watched there as nothing came. Nothing. Just a LEOPARD-tortoise. a leopard tortoise. Nothing to get excited about. I sat on a bench, and asked Anne to wake me if I fell asleep. Photographic evidence would later prove I passed out only moments after saying those words – sleeping, sitting up on the bench. Hey – leave me alone, I had only two hours of sleep last night – I had to stay up to see the unicorn. But, again, can't discuss that.
I was told that I fell asleep standing up on the truck earlier today – sleeping standing up, with my eyes open. And talking. I'm not sure how this differs from being awake, but I'm told that it does.
The heat soon dried my clothes, and we all headed to the pool and shade of the restaurant near by. One by one everyone fell asleep. This was our first full afternoon off. We clearly had no idea what to do with ourselves. Hamish slept on a table, Indika on a bench, everyones heads slammed down on surfaces near them. The heat was far too much. Mark read about Hobbits – his taking the lead from mine at this point. And I wrote notes in my moleskine.
We had a drive in the afternoon which started with a rhino, but then led to hours of nothing. People became crabby, and hot, and angsty. Just as all was feared lost, we saw in the road – ahead of us – giraffes licking salt from the dirt. Some will tell you they were licking at a pool of water, but they were too far forward for this. I'll believe what I wish to believe. I saw what I saw.
And with this sighting we returned to camp, once more feeling good about all the various things we'd seen in Africa on this day.
As night fell I headed up to the watering hole. I was told there was nothing there, but I had to see for myself. Darkness fell and the lights illuminated the place below. In the distance thunder could be heard, and lightening filled the night sky. So much lightening that the spot lights would shut down, and then recharge a minute later. It was during one of these periods that the lights came back to reveal a hyena drinking from the pool. It would stay only a few moments before scampering back away.
And then the rain started.
Lots of rain. Heavy rain.
Another man at the hole offered me a drive back to camp (four hundred meters away.) I figured, hey, what could possibly be wrong with accepting rides from strangers in the middle of Africa where no one knew who I was? This was a genius idea – so in I jumped, with a number of children, and off I travelled, right to the front of my tent. Much thanks were passed.
And thus ended our second, and final night, in the park I'd thought of so many years ago.
Big five count? Lions, and Elephants, and Rhinos – oh my! Oh yeah, and leopards too! Just the buffalo to go – and they don't exist here anyway.