Monday, October 21, 2002

Masai Mara, Kenya VI

As it is, rental cars and I already have a long and eventful history. A wheel flying off along Johannesburg's M-1. A windshield gone missing in Port-au-Prince. A little unpleasantness in Jerusalem regarding inexplicable rock damage. I've learned to say "Dude, it was like that when I picked it up" in seven languages. So it was with my usual brio that I picked up my designated safari vehicle, a sporty Toyota mini sport ute. After two weeks the muffler's been stove in, there's an alarming clattering every time I turn left and a fortnight's worth of spilled cookie crumbs have attracted a vigorous and rapidly expanding insect population.

Like I said, nothing new.

It wasn't until photographing a lion pride at dusk when I encountered an altogether new sound. I looked in the mirror in time to see an oversized tabbie lit blood red by the brake lights crunching on my bumper. I look at the holes she punched through the high impact plastic, look at my skinny, sunburned arm, and roll the windows up.

The insect life here has taken a liking to me as well. Assorted flies, ants and spiders have taken to calling my truck home. I thought the cookie crumbs would suffice, but one took an inexplicable liking to my foot. I felt a sharp sting, swatted, swerved and swore mightily, then went back to the never-ending business of disassembling my vehicle piece by piece. No matter how hard I ignored it though, the bite became a welt and kept right on swelling until achieving altogether elephantine proportions. I don't much care for doctors under any continent, but this seemed beyond the range of meager supply of Tylenol PM and Bactine.

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