I’m struggling to break through the fog of sleep when Marg says, “Did you see the hippo?” I keep my eyes shut for a moment, going over her words to make sure I heard them correctly.
With no other clues offered, I raise myself in bed, turn to her, and ask, “What hippo?” We’d seen hippos in South Africa, but none here at Kicheche Mara Camp in the Northern Mara Conservancy. As of yet, anyway.
“Right outside the tent! You didn’t hear it?” I admit to a hearing problem that is inexorably nearing severe, but who could miss hearing a hippo fifteen feet from the foot of my bed?
Me, apparently. So, Marg saw a hippo and heard a hippo right in front of our tent?
Then she says, “I could see its silhouette on the canvas.”
Okay, now I’ve caught her in this whopper. African nights are as inky as black velvet. Like a black hole. No light, unless you look up at the sky where the constellations sparkle through the clear air. So how does a hippo leave a silhouette on dark canvas on a dark night?
|She said she saw its silhouette through these two windows in the canvas. There is a covered patio beyone the front of the tent.|
She swears it was there. Marg doesn’t sleep much—a couple hours at a time, at most—so it’s probable she was awake to witness such a miracle. And there are hippos in the small river below us. And we are staying in the Kiboko tent, which is Swahili for hippopotamus.
|This is not a friendly crash of hippos.|
I get out of bed and stumble to the tray of coffee, tea, and cookies. I try to get to the tea water before Marg, a coffee drinker, does, because she makes my tea strong enough to shiver me timbers.
“It’s good for you,” she says.
|This yawning hippo is showing dominance.|
The security guy comes to fetch us for the morning game drive. It’s still dark, but Marg takes a flashlight and announces, “There’s a footprint.”
Anyway, off we went to see hippos. Before we get too far from the tent, I look back to see how on earth a hippo could have gotten to the front of our tent without knocking it down.
Do you see how narrow the path is along the right side of the tent?
A little way farther down the main path, we side-step a pile of Cape buffalo poop. No way could a buffalo get to the front of our tent, either.
|This yawn is a threat.|
|And this is why so many African rivers are polluted.|
|Just a bit of vegetation overhanging the river.|
|Marg searching for suitable subjects.|
While we wander and take photos, David, our guide, was busy setting up our breakfast spread.
|So, how many times have you had breakfast alongside a river swarming with hippos?|
Eventually, we are back at camp for our mid-day break. And what awaits us there? More good food.
Luscious potato salad!!!
My lunch plate: potato salad, meat load, and blood orange with beets. Wonderful.
|Everything was superb!|
Back at our tent, I am out in front searching for hippo tracks while across the valley, the usual giraffes dine on trees.
I keep searching in the dirt and grass for a hippo track. I'm not trying to prove Marg wrong about seeing a hippo during the night. I'm trying to prove her right!!!!
When I search for something that might be a track, Marg comes out of the tent and removes a shipping label that she had surreptitiously plastered on my back.
Then, she sticks it to her butt and returns to the tent.
Traveling with Marg is such fun!