This reminds of me of .................
We arrived later than we had planned.
The trip up from Nairobi had taken us longer. We were travelling new ground. The lodge was still some way from the entrance to the Safari Park, maybe another hour’s drive. There was a speed limit in the Park.
The guard was reluctant to let us enter. We had arrived too late. He knew it would be dark before we arrived at the lodge, and it wasn’t safe to let us in.
We thought we were invincible. We had already travelled overland from England to Kenya. Already spent 6 months travelling across Africa. We were young, newlyweds. Catriona’s parents had kindly lent us the Land Cruiser. This was our little break, on our own, at last. Just Pam and I. The remainder of our party of 12 were headed south to climb Mt Kenya. A man thing, macho.
Being this close to the Equator, day to turns to night quickly. Dusk is soon night. We pleaded with the guard to let us through; we could still make it to the lodge before dark? We all knew this wasn’t true, but you guessed it, he weaken and we were on our way.
The trail to the lodge was dry but rough. We pushed on as fast as we dare, hoping that the game would hear us coming and be long gone before we saw them. We were driving through bush and scrubland. Passing between small trees and vegetation, through which the track, we had to follow, meandered its way. The Land Cruiser was throwing up dust behind us, indicating to anyone watching that we were travelling faster than the rules allowed.
As we came around the next twist in the track, we saw him. Standing in the middle of the track awaiting our approach. Instinct kicked in. Brakes applied without any hesitation. The vehicle stopped, but the dust cloud travelling with us didn’t. He disappeared into the cloud. Hearts racing, we briefly exchanged a few words, very quietly. The engine was still running, we could reverse? Suddenly we were alone, in a borrowed vehicle, a long way from home. What if he charged? Who would know? The guard was right; we should not have arrived so late.
As the dust settled, we saw him once again. Head down, ready to charge. He was magnificent. We had invaded his turf. We were in the wrong, and we knew it. Lots of thoughts raced through our heads, as we sat there motionless and silent.
Fortunately, after what seemed a long while, he turned his head to the right, and slowly made his way off the track and back into the bush. We were grateful, and repentant. We drove on at a more leisurely pace until we finally made it to the lodge at Nakuru
. Most of our journey through the park had been in darkness. This was Africa, 1974. A brief moment I will always remember.