Christine Watt is an adventurous
Journeywoman living in Irvine, California. Contemplating a safari
holiday in Tanzania, she rose to the challenge and forced herself
to stare down an age-old "outdoor plumbing" fear. It was the only
way she would be able to fulfill a lifelong ambition -- to see fabulous
African animals in the wild. Christine writes...
Since first I realized
such creatures as the 'hefelumps' of my childhood storybooks really
did exist, I'd wanted to see elephants in the wild. When B.B.C. Wildlife
magazine offered a trip to Tanzania hosted by Virginia McKenna, actress
of Born Free movie fame, I raided my savings and reserved a spot.
here I lay, listening to hyena cackles split the night while
untamed creatures skittered over my tent roof. The air was
moist, cool, and pungent with alien smells of a world untouched
by so-called civilization.
It was the loo that finally
made me realize I was actually living my dream. Of course,
as soon as the camp generator had been switched off, I naturally
had "to go." It didn't matter that I'd just been. I hummed,
as I lay on my cot counting wildebeeste in a bush-tent hermetically
zipped (I hoped) against scorpions and other creatures that
wander in the night. You see, the trouble was, I was inside
while the loo was outside -- across no-woman's land.
birds and baby baboons...
only a few days, I really had seen it all -- wildebeeste fulfilling
their need to thunder across the plains, massive black rhinos,
like prehistoric tanks, pounding their way through herds of
delicate antelopes, ostriches snapping up grasshoppers as
they shimmied their wings like shawls that wouldn't stay in
place. There were troops of baboons whose babies stared at
you just like human babies do, leopards up thorny acacia trees,
and plump-bottomed zebras everywhere. Giraffes peered superciliously
down at me through the jungle foliage, a mighty water buffalo
charged my Land Rover near the Olduvai Gorge, I'd even witnessed
a cheetah kill.
But what truly astonished
me in East Africa were the birds. Forget any attempt at camouflage
-- think "Here I am!" flamboyance. And, if the birds' colors
were resplendent as a rainbow, their sounds were often more
bizarre. Imagine the bottle bird making sounds just like a
water bottle with an air bubble being emptied -- a melancholy
"bloop bloop." The complete experience was wonderful.
Insects and waiters
was something surreal about that first meal on Tanzania's
Serengeti. Because of El Ni�o, insect life teemed in Tanzania.
When the first squadron of shiny, black, living golf balls
dive-bombed our group at dinner, I leaped sky-high along with
everyone else. By the end of the meal we were all blas� as
scarab beetles crawled over our china side plates and green
mantises as long as my forearm hung from the tent ceiling.
The food could rival any
fancy Parisian restaurant's, the tables were set with gleaming
silver and spotless white linen, and gracious waiters wore
bow ties. Yet, the closest drinkable water was prides of majestic
lions away. I was in paradise!