Thursday, March 8, 2001

Masai Mara, Kenya IV

Early in the afternoon, the air thickens, and dark clouds build toward critical mass. A lion and lioness nap through the day’s torpid heat, taking what shade the tall savanna grass affords. Lightning crackles and as if a switch has been thrown, the air turns to liquid.

The pair look as happy as any wet house cat and the temperature drops 20 degrees in as many minutes.

As the rain falls, the road system, such as it is, turns into a thick muddy stew. Matatu drivers are no great skill under the best of circumstances, turn the park into a demolition derby, careening in the slick mud and burying themselves to the axle. I make friends for life with a Japanese couple by offering a rope to extricate their driver’s minivan out of a rut. They speed off into the gloom in a spray of mud. I stay with the lions for a few minutes more, watching as lightning spits from the receding storm clouds.

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