The Light after the Storm
NOTE: The photos will look best if you open them by clicking on one. A film strip will appear at the bottom and you can scroll through them by opening each one. I suggest you read the story then go back and click on the first photo.
Raindrops are plonk, plonk, plonking on the tarpaulin that covers my tent at Entim Private Camp in the Maasai Mara. That I can hear them individually is a good sign in that it isn’t a downpour. Yet. There’s a threatening sky out there and the threat seems to be moving this way.
I have already downloaded the photos from this morning’s safari and am happily browsing through them on my little travel computer. A stiff breeze ruffles the front flaps of the tent and the raindrops are no longer individual but part of a common sound.
My camera batteries are changing in anticipation of the late afternoon safari. Here, we don’t leave camp until 4 o’clock, which is probably the latest departure of any of the African camps I’ve been in. We return from the morning safari between ten and 11.
The amazing Secretary bird, so named because of the white cloak and pencils in her hair.
Lunch is at one. That gives us five hours or so of downtime, a period when the light will be too harsh for good photos and the animals most likely will be sleeping in what shade they can find.
Red-billed oxpeckers on a Cape Buffalo's back.
Today, we will meet at 3 o’clock for a photo lab. I call it “Show and Tell” because each of us will present a photo to the group for commentary.
The wind picks up and so does the rain. Suddenly one of the staff rushes up to my tent and says, loudly, “Close up your tent!” He does the outside zippers while I make sure the inside zippers are fastened. Then he rushes off to the next tent.
None too soon, either, because with crashes of thunder and sheets of rain, a squall hits us face on. I stand in awe, looking out the side window screen of the tent, as wind and rain batter the tent.
Turn up the sound!
It occurs to me that turning off the computer and unplugging the power supply would be a good idea. As I approach the desk, I see water on the canvas floor and consider my options. That puddle has formed around the electrical outlet set into the floor.
My laptop and chargers are plugged into a strip, so I undo those first. Then, I reach for the strip cord and yank it out of the floor socket. Now all the electronics are safe and I can relax and enjoy the squall.
It’s all over fairly quickly. While I’m thinking about the power of wind and water, I unzip the tent flaps and see debris all over the canvas floor of the deck.
At 3 o’clock, I’m comparing inside-the-tent puddle stories with my pals and every one of them outdoes my little puddle. Laura had two inches of water in her tent. Others had an inch or so, or BIG puddles. Then, Show and Tell begins.
There are a lot of good photographers in this group! My photo of the lilac-breasted roller swallowing an insect while perched on a zebra’s back is well-received, and I’m tickled.
Then, after everyone’s photos are shown and comments concluded, we are off into the mud of the Mara.
We find lions in a small copse of trees near the airstrip and wait for them to wake up.
By the time they move out into the open where we can see them better, the sun is setting and the light turns golden. Our driver moves down-sun so we can shoot into the sun.
And magic happens:
And the one I will use for the next Show and Tell:
When we return to camp, all the water has been removed from the tents and the front decks are spotless.