Saturday, February 24, 2001

Masai Mara, Kenya

Blind confidence and credit cards will get you a long way in this world, but getting back is another matter.

I should have been paying better attention, but that’s what I always say. One minute I’m cruising down some deserted track through the East African savanna, the next I’m bogged, stuck and wading in ankle-deep mud trying to extricate this pig of a truck.

My fall from automotive grace could hardly be quicker.

Waiting for help seems a poor option. I haven’t seen a fresh tire track in hours. Shoving the car matt under the spinning tires, I try very hard to ignore the shadows of an approaching thunderhead, until the deluge hits and I can only sit inside and stew. i start calculating my survival options. Three weeks worth of food and fuel, lots of reading material. No one on earth with a clue where I am.

Night closes in and I set up my tent on the truck’s roof. There are few places darker than a cloudy, starless night on this savanna. I lie in my sleeping bag disconsolate, chasing sleep that will not come. Just as I start to drift off, a low growl cuts through the darkness, and there’s a snapping of twigs. I unzip the fly just enough to stick out my big cop flash light. I flick it on, squarely into the eye of a passing elephant. Startled and blinded, he kicks his way through my fuel and water cans, and wanders off in a huff.

I sit there calling after him, “Don’t go. Just take the other end of this rope...”

By morning I’m feeling like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. And I don’t even have a volleyball to talk to.

No comments: