My children smell of dust and roasted marshmallows. The buttery light falls gently onto their heads like an angel’s handprint; Oliver Twist urchins of the bush.
It’s shortly after 5pm and I am sitting at the fence of our camp with an ostrich, a starling and some ground squirrels for company on the other side. A group of German tourists set up their camp chairs next to me, so much for a moment of solitude. I can’t help but wonder how their night will turn out seeing as the light is fading fast and they show no signs of unpacking their tents yet.
Two ground squirrels are nibbling at my boots. There is still some warmth left in the afternoon and the rest of the camp is starting to rustle with the expectation of ‘sundowners’ and the evening meal, a braai for most it seems judging by the smell of woodsmoke and charcoal.
The children and hubby are going on a night drive at 8h30pm, so supper was early; a feast of gorgeous sticky sweet pork ribs, fire-roasted sweet pepper, garlic, mushroom and onions plus the potatoes and sweetcorn left over from last night, followed by the requisite tinned guavas and custard. The next big activity on the agenda is shower-time! The boys were ecstatic about ‘skipping’ last night (thank-you to my old friend who told me to overstock on baby wipes with their multitude of uses) but tonight we shall run the gauntlet of cold between tent and ablution block!
Earlier today I was struck again by how important it is to live in the moment, because things can change so quickly. How different things could have been tonight, had it not been that (for once!) my two boys listened to their parents.
After our morning game drive, we stopped off at the Kamqua picnic site. The boys were playing around a nearby Acacia while we poured the hot drinks. The littlest suddenly bolted back to the picnic table shouting ‘snake, snake!’ He was grinning from ear to ear and I confess to thinking that this was another one of his wild imagination games, particularly as he had already seen ‘two baby elephants and the possum his sister had spotted en route from Twee Rivieren the day before (more on the Aussie hitchhiking possum later…). But two minutes later his brother came bounding up to us saying that there was indeed a snake in the tree. It had slithered back into a hole in the trunk and so from what we could see of it, it could either have been a mole snake – completely non-venomous – or it could just as easily have been a cobra, common in these parts. Some days later I ask a guide who uses the picnic site as a regular rendezvous point and he tells me that yes a cobra has been spotted in that tree.
It’s hard to say whether the snake excitement or our prime sighting of the morning held more sway. Only twenty minutes out of camp, we found a pair of lions loping up the riverbed – a sphinx-like lioness and her brawny mate. We followed them for about half-an–hour and then went on ahead to wait for them at the next waterhole where we were rewarded with some lovely playful photographs in the morning light.
People don’t always behave well in these situations it seems. Telescopic lenses are brandished like swords – and I sometimes wonder if it would be an idea to leave the cameras, along with the guns, at the camp reception upon check-in.
The desire to capture things for the eye so easily overrides the desire to capture it for the heart, it seems.