Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day Four – Thursday, July 19th, 2012 (part 1) Bad Night and Mountian Zebra

by david on August 9, 2012

            Bad night.  I woke up a half dozen times, alternating between burning up and freezing.  My fever finally must have broken about 5:30 am because I wake up wringing-wet sweaty.  I somehow manage to find the ibuprofen on my bedside table, swallow three of them, and doze back off.  Next thing I know, it is 8:45, and I almost feel up to zombie status.  A nice long shower helps and afterwards I am starting to feel human.  After making my way to the lodge, I help myself to a large glass of juice and an even bigger coffee.  I still have no appetite, even though I should be starving after fasting of over 22 hours. 

            I talked with Johann as we were supposed to start my elephant hunt today only to find out the price went up again even before we had a chance to respond to the first increase.  I ask him to tell the chief, who has been yanking us around over the price, to do something anatomically impossible with the elephant (I get grouchy when I am sick).  I suggest we come up with a plan “D”, as “A”, “B”, and “C” have all gone south.  Even though nothing seems to be working out at the moment, this is Africa.  She will take you on a twisting, winding journey, and where you end up is anyone’s guess.  We decide that, since I feel like death warmed-over, we will just play the rest of the day by ear and see what happens. 

            When the lunch bell is rung, eating is still on my not-to-do list, so I go back and try to sleep some more.  My alarm goes off at 3:00.  I decide that I am in Africa and I am going to hunt even if it kills me.  I get myself dressed and wobble on over to the lodge to inform Johann of my decision.  He and Willie have the Land Cruiser loaded in just a few moments and we are off to pick up Tjokkie.  He will be our tracker today. 

            What possessed me to think I was up to climbing up and down mountains looking for a zebra escapes me.  The only thing that comes to mind is, if you want a mountain zebra, the mountains are where you have to look.  As we are driving into the interior of the Tualuka concession, Johann asks if I would mind if Willie led our little expedition into the mountains as he needs the experience.  I don’t mind at all, as helping young people involved in the hunting and shooting sports pursue their passion is one of my favorite past times.  With that decision made, Johann asks Willie where he wanted to go and we are off.  A few miles later, there is a banging on the roof.  The signal game had been spotted.  We pile out of the truck and, low and behold, we are in-between two groups of zebra, each on their own mountainside. 

            The closer of the two is directly between us and the afternoon sun.  Try as I might, I cannot see hide nor hair of the zebra.  I choose to go for the more distant group.  The sun will be at our back, making the animals easier for me to see.  The trek up the mountain side starts.  I find myself able to keep up despite my illness.  I guess all those mornings on the exercise equipment and mountain biking are paying off.  When we finally crest the ridge, the zebra have pulled a Houdini.  They are nowhere to be seen.  Tjokkie finally spots them on another mountain.  I don’t know if something spooked them or they just decided they wanted to be somewhere else.  They went over the top of the mountain they were on and down the other side.  They are now approaching the top of the next one over.  Boy, those critters can move when they want to.

            With that plan gone south, Johann decides we should go cross-country to get back to the truck.  His hope is we will come across another group or some other group of animals.  Willie takes the lead and heads us into the wind.  I have no feel for how far we traveled or how far we have to go to get back to the truck.  I simply put one foot in front of the other, concentrating on walking quietly and keeping up.  I have not gotten my “stalking feet”, as I call them back, yet.  In an effort to walk quietly, I try to place my feet in the same place as the person in front of me.  It takes my mind off the long hike, and this time was no exception.  I am on autopilot when I see the palm of Willie’s downward-pointing arm and hand in front of me, indicating for me to stop.  Somehow I manage to do so without knocking him over or falling on my face.  He has heard something.  He gives a quick glance back at Johann, and a nod from him confirms the sound.  There are zebra ahead.  For some strange reason, a quote from Sherlock Holmes comes to mind and I mutter, “The game is afoot, Watson”.

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