Just like fisherman’s stories, campfire tales are like cordial,
a small amount of concentrate and and a lot of filler.
(Red wine was our filler of choice).
So … there we were, our first night on the wilderness trail
and Reggie, the Survivor of 7 previous wilderness trails and
with many years of stories under his belt,
is keeping John and me spell-bound with stories of free-range Lion,
Hyena and Jackal invading various camp sites on countless occasions.
One incident that made me more wide-eyed that Hotel Paradiso
was one night a few years ago on a previous trip,
when he woke up to feel a lion digging under his tent.
The Lion, according to Reg, was looking for warmth
and had found it, centimeters away from the pop-up tent.
(I don’t think so)
Reg called to his buddy in the other tent for back-up,
but there was no response,
just a lot of snoring.
In desperation and as per their camp rules, he leapt into his car
(parked with the door at arms reach away from the tent zip,)
and chased the lion and his wives out of the camp.
So, with that story in mind, on our first “wilderness” night,
we took our head torches (thank you Christine and Gavin),
and bolted for the bushes for a late night P and teeth clean,
then plunged gratefully into our paper thin but pristine
tent, serenaded only by Jackal in the far distance.
There is little that beats the quiet of a bush night,
the dazzle of the millions of stars and the build up of storm cloud.
Thank goodness we kept our fly sheet on, as fortune
smiled on the dry bush and that night we had just enough rain
to wash away the dust and lay a new and fresh ‘canvas’ in the sand.
All the tracks from previous nightly visitors disappeared
and the pre-storm heat was relieved.
At 5 a.m. the next morning it happened.
The most unmistakable and fear inducing sound blasted me
into wakefulness, it shattered the silence and had me quivering
in my sleeping bag.
Oh @#$% @#$%^^& I think, There is a lion in Reggie’s tent,
Maybe it has eaten him already, oh lordy lord…what to do?
Wake John up…
(he had done all the driving for 3 days, no lion
was going to disturb his sleep, also he is deaf in one ear
which is very helpful in big predator country!)
Suddenly I heard another start-up and roar, Reg had done the leap
and was escorting Simba out of the camp area, Jeep style
wearing his protective Simba t-shirt, and armed with his catty.
Our very own David and Goliath situation.
We too quickly got into our vehicle, but sadly missed the action,
the Kalahari lion had been “moved on” and all that was left were
virgin tracks in the sand around the tents, tracks of lion,
hyena, giant millipede and aardvark.
And a slightly depleted supply of adrenalin.
I promise I will always listen to fisherman’s stories
and campfire tales in a different light.
Not torch light though.