Xanax Safari (Part Four)

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Oh, that right there? That’s a crocodile slide. You know, the indentation on a sandy bank where a crocodile slides into the water. It’s less than ten feet from my bedroom. You know, the one without a door. But don’t worry about it. They aren’t interested in us really and they can’t board the boat when the gangway is hauled up, and Nhamu and Aleck are bound to haul up the gangway before nightfall.

The one thing I’ve expressed a real hatred for here (other than heat and eating fish) is crocodile. I don’t mean to sound racist, but I don’t like their looks and I liked Peter Pan as a kid, and that crocodile was no sympathetic character. Last night when my brother-in-law flashed the spotlight into the weeds so I could see how many of their beady eyes were glowering at us, I got chills. So imagine my disappointment when Nhamu decided that our nightly docking would happen at a place called Crocodile Creek. He’s done this with no irony. The fish are meant to be biting here, but I’m pretty sure the crocodiles have gobbled them all up because Z has been fishing for an hour and hasn’t hauled in anything larger than a minnow.

There’s hippo poo on the bank too, so that’s promising. Maybe there’ll be a real Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom moment for me to report.

P.S. Did I tell you about how despite my careful packing for every eventuality on this trip to Kariba I left my delightful book back on my bed at Z-ma’s? All I have with me is Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, the Blogess. I’ve had to limit how much I read so it will last. I’d estimated this as a two-book trip. One of my biggest fears, aside from death by wild animal, is running out of reading material.

–later—

For most of the day, there wasn’t a single crocodile sighting, or any other non tiny-fish wildlife. My sister-in-law decided she’d venture off the boat to have a quick look around. She was gone, perhaps, a minute and a half before we saw her running in what appeared to be slow motion, clearing the rope that kept Tambonette tied to the shore, cigarette clutched in her hand. Z yelled, “What is it?” and she yelled, “ELEPHANT.” Remember how quiet I told you they could be? She nearly walked right into one. We couldn’t quit laughing. We wouldn’t have been laughing, of course, if the elephant had followed her.

Awhile later, the same elephant came out of the brush, nibbling on trees, followed by a smaller one. The larger male, noticed us, and expanded his ears and raised his trunk. Did I mention that the boat was only about eight feet from the shore? I was quaking in my flip flops. But then my brother-in-law talked to me (and I think the elephant) very calmly and said, “That’s just bullshit, there. He’s just saying, ‘I see you. Stay where you are.’” And sure enough, when we made no move towards his territory, the elephant went happily back to his tree munching. Aside from Crocodile Dundee and Indiana Jones, I’m convinced that Z’s brother is a little like Dr. Doolittle, only without the top hat. (And yes, that was a reference to the original movie of my childhood and not the Eddie Murphy version. Because I’m just that old.)

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