Monday, October 21, 2002

Masai Mara, Kenya III

Sharing all this senseless beauty are an additional thousand-odd tourists each day, most with a serious Hemingway fashion thing happening, all done up like great white hunters piled into Land Rovers and minibuses and hot air balloons to check out the sites. A lion kill, cheetah cubs, dozing crocs and snorting hippos, it all in their eyes, onto the video cam and out of their heads in a matter of seconds. Spending up to 14 hours a day driving myself around the park, I have ample time to meditate on the wonder of this place and the odd nature of tourism in our attention deficit age.

One morning at dawn, I spotted a cheetah crying a bird-like call searching for her lost cubs. She scoured the bush for ten minutes before finding them playing along a eroded stream bed, and they leapt to her with a maternal love left that left me gasping on the verge of tears. Within minutes a dozen safari trucks roared up, the khaki clad hoard gawked down, took some snaps and were soon impatient to see something else. Like a kill. Like now. Christ we're going to miss lunch at the lodge. There is no reverence, no mystery, just show me the damn animals, get me close for the video and okay now show me something new.

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