Being a Wilde Beast calf……..


Governors camp is a spectacular place to be at. Like all lodges and camps in the Mara, the people here are uniquely jovial and welcoming. People you never forget as you settle back in your boring city life!

Your mind will always stray to that guard who looked so happy and content with his serene surrounding, making real footprints unlike our fake eish ‘digital footprints’…the waiter who by virtue of serving different people from all over the world speaks with an air of importance and tells tourists about the beauty of Kenya….

On this particular trip we were slip proofing bathrooms at the main Governor’s camp, we had done the same in Little Governors which if i remember correctly was a few miles across the Mara river.

We had left a team to do the bathrooms while we went around, the driver and i, marketing to other camps and lodges. In spite of the busy schedule we had promised ourselves to always make it back to Governor’s for the meals. Their meals were terrific and i loved doing breakfast facing the expansive Mara grassland, at times with Elephants grazing not far from the camp.

A couple of days earlier on our way to the camp, dazed by the bumpy road, long period without coffee and fatigued eyes i thought i saw what looked liked city lights. The team i was travelling with had never been to the Mara before, i had and this made me the designated advisor and tour guide. I even told them they could pull out whiskers from the Lions coz they were just big cats with big hanging balls, totally harmless, no need to fear them!

I looked again and my mind which was of course used to the city lights convinced me, against my better knowledge that yes indeed those were city lights. Which city thrived so vividly in the bush, i was asked, i donno, i answered back, maybe ‘Mara premier shopping’ or something like that……some foreign investement of sorts perhaps!!

After a while we got closer to the ‘city lights’…guess what, they weren’t, it was a multitude of Wilde Beasts, eyes shining in the dark Mara night, grazing and resting their sore limbs in preparation for the coming plunge across Mara River; they needed all the strength they could muster to conquer the crocodile infested river.

I counted lots of very tiny calves, running around their protective mothers and bearded fathers who cared less for them. There is always an alpha male who acts as the supreme council, galloping elegantly ahead of the herd. Such show offs are always the first to be captured by the crocs in the river!

At that moment i thought how hard it was to be a baby Wilde Beast; the first thing you learn before balancing a tit in your mouth is how to run. Run to cross safely from the Serengeti to the Mara then back to Serengeti. Run to save ass from marauding predators in the hideous grasslands. Run to jump to safety across the Mara River stepping on the snouts of hungry crocs.

They learn to run after their mothers’ tits when a lion interrupts breakfast……such a tough life, all for what? To get on the cover of Nat Geo Wild Magazine?

Then on one of those marketing campaigns it rained so hard while on our way from Sarova Mara that we had to spend the night at some town called Lemek. This meant we would miss the superb meals at Governor’s; we however contented ourselves with Nyama Choma, slept with the hope that we would make it to Governor’s early the next day.

Come the next day and we are well on our way. Patrick Beresford, the main guy at Governor’s, was expecting us to be there so we could go through the tents we had already slip proofed. Then just as we are about to cross a certain river we find several cars lined up along the roadside, problem- the river had flooded!

A normal car wouldn’t cross that place. Our ‘city-conditioned’ four wheel drive van lacked the tenacity of the bullish Land Cruisers and Rovers which were built with The Mara terrain in mind. To prove this point, a Mzungu from one of the lodges drove his huge Cruiser through the flooded river, it was submerged to the window level and the damn thing just swam like a hippo and emerged on the other side- unscathed, undeterred and laughing at us city boys with our cowardly examples of metal we called ‘4WDs’!

Again, to drive the point further home, the bad boy is reversed and emerges right at the point we were shaking our heads in awe tinged with envy. He tags along the area chief’s tiny Suzuki all the way to the other side.

Some showy tour guide called Mwangi (i recall his name coz he was extremely talkative) jumped the queue and decided to try what the Cruiser had done. His Toyota van, after entering the river at full throttle got stuck right in the middle while full of tourists who may have been totally unimpressed by Mwangi’s show of stupidity and arrogance.

The water was already sipping through the van, tourists had to perch their legs on the seats. In spite of his arrogance, a bunch of Maasai boys jumped into the river and pushed the van right out of the river.

We just had to be content that our Isuzu van would never make it through that way, had to wait till noon for the water to subside before crossing over.

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