Sunsets

by david on December 27, 2011

The time when I get back to camp and the days hunt is over is my favorite time on safari.  It is the magical time of the African sunset.  Do not get me wrong the sunrises can be spectacular but I love the sunsets.  Let me take you there with me, so try to imagine yourself there as I describe the evening.  The sky turns the most wonderful shades of blue, and the shadows seem to move across the ground on their own.  The temperature drops quickly and you shiver while you change from your hunting clothes into your camp attire.  Next, you catch that first smell of smoke coming off the fire and it draws you closer as the only source of heat available.  Waiting close to the fire is your host with your favorite beverage.  A “sundowner”, that is what the locals call it.  It is more than just having a drink; it is about winding up the day and winding you down.  You pull your chair up to the fire, enjoy a smoke if you like, and lots of great conversation.  If there is more than one hunter in your group, you can relive each other’s adventures of the day.  Old stories are retold and all becomes right with the world, or at least this little corner of it.  As the story swapping comes to an end, and the liquid from you last refill works its way toward the bottom of your glass, your nose may catch a whiff of the delights to come.  A few minutes later the call will come to assemble for dinner, and as you make your way toward the table, your senses are completely overwhelmed.  Here in the deepest, darkest, Africa is a table set with fine china and crystal.  There are decanters of fine wine, bowls of steaming vegetables, and a platter of roasted beast.  The sight forces you to concentrate on not drooling down your shirt and embarrassing yourself.  As you look around the table, you realize that you are not alone in your plight, as everyone in attendance seems to be having the same problem.  When everyone takes a seat, a short blessing is asked, and the feast begins.  The conversation magically ceases for the first few minutes of dinner as everyone enjoys each bite.  Just as you finally convince your mouth to stop taking in any more food, your sense of smell is assaulted once more by what else, desert.  Pastries, pies, puddings, or cake, what would it be tonight?  All of this food will ruin even the most staunch dieters resolve.  After everyone has had to loosen his or her belt a notch or two, it is back to the fire with one last glass of wine.  For those that enjoy a good cigar, I cannot think of a better time or place to enjoy a smoke.  The conversation soon turns to which quarry you are searching and then to coming up with a game plan for tomorrow.  Once again, the conversation starts to lag.  Others start to excuse themselves and head off to bed and you fight the urge to follow.  There is something about sitting around the fire watching the fames dance while enjoying the serenade provided courtesy of the African night.  It is easy to think back fifty or a hundred years and imagine what it was like then.  It was probably not too much different from what you are experiencing tonight.  You wonder what the hunters that came before you talked about.  Were they hunting elephant, lion, plains game, or the same as you?  Soon the realization that you cannot resist the call of your warm comfortable bed any longer works its way into your conscious thought.  As you stand and force one foot in front and head toward your quarters you feel the cold of the night wrap its self around you.  You are barely able to get your things ready for tomorrow as sleep comes for you.  As you drift off, a thought comes to you and you smile as you realize that you get to do this all again tomorrow.

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