Returning from the evening safari, we showered and came out to a crackling campfire and cocktails. Christopher and Eddie were thrilled that we’d already seen the “Big Five” on our first day (elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, lion, leopard).
Soon, all of the men who’d greeted us earlier started chanting a hypnotic African song and dancing into the fire-lit circle. The deep chants and graceful hops moved me to tears as I witnessed the sheer joy in their faces as they greeted us. Even the chef – in his whites and chef hat, hopped along with them and sang.
The chef then stepped forward, and speaking so softly that I had to lean forward and cup my ears, said (whispered) in his melodic accent, “good evening. I am you chef, Joshua. To-nigh I prepare for you butternut squash sou, grill chicken on garlic poe-tay-toe, accompany by grill root veggie-table. Please?” and he gestured toward the dining table.
The meal rivaled the most exquisite I’ve had, and was followed by a spice cake with currants and carrots, and a cream cheese frosting.
I asked Christopher why they didn’t serve African-inspired meals, and he said that historically, those didn’t go over as well, so the camp had switched over to food that foreigners could digest easier.
Afterwards, my askari escorted me to my tent, where the hippos were holding a concert. Brushing my teeth, I again pondered how I’d ever sleep. I crawled under my mosquito netting and under the blankets and bumped into something small, warm and fuzzy…and I screamed as I jumped back out, tangling myself up in the netting. My flashlight revealed a deadly flannel-sheathed hot-water-bottle nesting in my bed.
I snuggled up next to it, and my next cohesive thought was, “SERIOUSLY? You’re waking me up in the middle of the night???” That was my bitter impulse to the melodic sing-song, “Gooooood Mooooor Neeeeeen, Kiiiiiiiii Kiiiiiiiii,” repeated over and over and over again just outside my zippered door.
It was still dark, and I had to orient myself, find my flashlight, negotiate the netting, unzip the tent – and there stood a grinning Steve, with a tray of coffee and biscuits (pronounced “bis QUIT” and tasting more like a shortbread cookie), along with a jug of warm water. My safari wake-up call! I’d slept through the night without even a potty break!
So I got dressed, cleaned up with my warm water, brushed my teeth and hair, stuck my head outside the tent and stage whispered, “Hello?” No answer. “Hello?” a little louder, but still no response. So much for the askari who’s supposed to be protecting me all night! I used my walkie talkie and called in to ask for an escort, as they’d made it clear we weren’t to wander through camp in the dark, unaccompanied by an askari. It turns out a couple of hippos had wandered into the camp and ALL of the askari were busy getting them out. He WAS protecting me!!!!!!
A new askari arrived and got me to the lounge where we all boarded the Land Cruisers.