Friday, November 4, 2011

Mis-adventures in Africa



Sometimes I think I'm a magnet for "adventures". And by "adventures" I mean the kind that make interesting stories later. Here's a few of the more memorable adventures from my recent trips:

The bat in the bed
This happened to me a few years ago on a trip to Kruger National Park. It had been a long day and I was feeling a little tired so I just plopped down on my bed upon arriving in the chalet. A while later I was removing the bedspread from the bed and there was a friendly bat right under the bedspread in the bed. The bat seemed to be OK even though I'm sure he didn't enjoy sharing the bed with a human. He was released safely outside. I, however, now I always check under the covers before crawling into bed.

The python in the rafters
This was in Botswana. We were staying at the lovely Nata Lodge. Strangely enough they had been playing the movie "Anaconda" in the lodge area that evening - and I'd avoided looking at the TV as I didn't want to have "snakes on the brain" and jump at everything that moved. Upon retiring to our chalet for the evening we did some reading which included the Lodge's pamphlet of what animals you might see at the Lodge. Boomslangs(poisonous tree snake) were on the list as well as cobras I believe - but honestly I don't remember if they had pythons on the list. I should have recognized the signs that my night was going to get interesting...

After reading for a while, I walked to the dresser to grab a glass of water and while drinking the water I happened to glance in the mirror. Above and behind me there was a decent sized python looking at me from the rafters. I did remain rather calm and sent my husband to find the Lodge's manager. I stayed to keep an eye on the python as I didn't want her sneaking into my luggage! The manager showed up with a rifle and several men(they thought it might be the boomslang). The snake found a nice cosy place to wedge itself into and refused to leave. I didn't want them to shoot it and I didn't want to sleep in the same room as the python so our only other option was a new chalet. The lovely folks at Nata Lodge did oblige me with a new chalet(it was actually an upgrade) - but just as we started moving our stuff it starts storming! So we were making a mad dash through a storm, with suitcases in the middle of the African night. It did make for a fun story the next morning, and the manager did tease me a bit at breakfast for not wanting to stay with the snake. Now I always check the rafters in my room before relaxing for the evening!

The sneaky jackal
This incident was the most recent. During our last visit to Africa we were in Namibia. We spent three nights at the amazing Desert Homestead. I did just love it there - it was so beautiful. One night I was sitting out on our small patio in the dark - enjoying the peace and quiet and the gorgeous night sky. For some reason my mind started drifting to the subject of snakes - specifically that aforementioned python from the rafters... As I was lost in thought I heard a rock that was kicked right behind me in the pitch darkness. I'm sure some rational part of my brain realized that snakes can't kick rocks as they don't have feet - but at that moment I didn't behave rationally. I jumped out the chair and screamed - a loud scream on such a perfectly quiet night! As I turned around I saw it was just a black-backed jackal that had been curious and had been sneaking up behind me until that rock gave him away. He was only a couple feet away. I believe my scream scared the jackal at least as much as he had scared me - the poor thing yelped and didn't stop running until he was out of sight!

I don't know why these weird things seem to happen to me - I know lots of people who don't have such events happen to them. Every time I plan a trip to Africa I can't help but wonder what's in store for me next...

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