"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Monday, January 28, 2019

The 2018 Africa Journals, Ch. 27: Shape-shifters in the Night

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.

There are a lot of hippos near the bend in the river.

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!


  1. I chuckled st the end ... "traveling with Marg is such fun". And, believe it or not, I, personally have never yet had breakfast along side a river swarming with hippos. You, indeed, have had some fabulous adventures ... and meals! Nice post. Hugs and more chuckles. Patti (and in spirit, Cap in Siberia)

  2. Too funny all of the Hippos. Hippos here, Hippos there, Hippos everywhere. A yawn is a threat. I am confused. Did Marg see a Hippo or not. I don't see a conclusion on your part. Smiles from Irkutsk and Anchorage. Cap and Patti.

    1. She swears she did. Marg has been to Africa many many times, so if she says she saw a hippo, she did.

  3. P.S. I have yet to be awakened, breaking through the fog of sleep, by someone asking, "Did you see the hippo?" You truly are gleaning many experiences that most do not encounter in our lifetimes. Cap and I travel a LOT, but I doubt we will ever be awakened by a question of whether or not we saw the hippo. Cudos for the world travels you have selected and shared with those of us who 'get to a lot of places' but cannot hit then all! Hugs dear friend. Patti

  4. So Marg would not be kidding about this? No tell-tale foot-prints huh? Smiles .. Cap and Patti

    1. It was difficult to discern any prints in that combination of pebbles and vegetation.