Tuesday, April 21, 2009

7 Feb (Sat)

Returned to Moremi today after a fun 3 days of socializing. It took Rio a while to get used to being around kids again and he needed 2 hours to warm up and start to interact. In my over-analytical way I realize that this year will be a constant round of adapting for him. As he gets used to the solitude of the bush he is thrust into a mad social whirl of Maun, and as he starts getting used to this he is whisked away to the bush again. And, just as he starts coming to terms with this dual existence we will probably move elsewhere…. I hope it ultimately makes him stronger and doesn’t have any lasting negative implications.

The kids are getting used to the drive, or maybe Frannette and I are getting used to it and are wrangling them better, knowing which parts of the drive go quickly, which parts will be interesting and so on.

We saw 2 cobras between the vet fence and the gate. One at least 8 foot and the second one about 4 foot. We stopped the car about 2 metres from the smaller one as it was crossing the road and it looked at us and raised it’s hood briefly. It was on the side of the car where Rio and I were, and he was leaning out the back window in anticipation. As soon as the cobra stopped and looked threatening, instinct took over and I yelled at Rio to “get in the car quickly”. To his credit he acted like lightning and ducked down below the level of the window. A tad melodramatic but it did create much opportunity for Rio to regale us for the next hour about how he had to take evasive action from the vicious creature, and how he did so with the reflexes of a superhero.

Adventures are starting to become the norm on these drives and Frannette and I are starting to feel like Thelma and Louise. This time I elect the wrong route around an enormous puddle (all the time vaguely knowing that it could be a bad decision) and we get bogged down to the axles in thick mud. After years of living and working in the bush with Brad and having been stuck numerous times in every conceivable thing that can make a car stick, I know the drill. We leap out to go and find logs to place under the tyres to gain some traction and immediately get sucked knee deep into revolting mud. On pulling my foot out my Croc remains behind and it takes me 5 minutes just to extricate it from under all the goo. We tell Rio to stay put and to look after Keita (who is asleep in her baby chair) and head off into the bush to find logs. I look back to see little Rio, fingers clutched onto the rolled-down window, wide eyes peering out, and I realize what a big adventure it is for him. Luckily we find suitable logs close by and return within 5 minutes. We do what I have helped Brad do on numerous occasions (only this time with the added pressure of directing the operation) and we soon work ourselves free. The instant we are on solid ground I leap out to do a victory dance and I hear a small voice saying “I always knew you could do it Mom” and see Rio, grinning from ear to ear, clearly very relieved, and clearly having had massive doubts about my ability to do it at all. In the effort to get us unstuck I had largely forgotten about him sitting quietly (and I now realize, somewhat terrified) on the back seat. The relief and glee on his face probably matched my own. I had no desire to have Brad rescue us once again!  

In good spirits after that we chatted and sang for the remainder of the trip. We officially christened our trusty Prado “Lightning The Queen” courtesy of Rio and arrived in camp in the late afternoon.

As I was walking back from taking a load of bags from “Lightning The Queen” to the tent I saw a small brown snake slithering around the play tent and eventually vanish into the grass. Jason told me that earlier that day he had seen a black mamba in our marula tree in camp. It had gone into the hole where our resident mice live and had emerged with a mouse baby in its mouth.

Four snakes in one day. Hmmmm.

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