Stuck in the Mud: Ode to Our Guides


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Africa » Zambia
February 18th 2017
Published: June 10th 2017
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Geo: -15.1305, 25.7849

I slept well last night, as Vervet monkeys are not nocturnal, so except for bellowing and snorting hippos, and a lion's purr as it walked by, all was quiet. It is heavenly to sleep in the bush! Sometime in the black of night the wind became strenuous and heavy downpours soon followed. Everything was slightly soggy by morning. But we go on game drives sunshine or rain, so because it was also somewhat chilly, I bundled up in four layers including a rain jacket and off we went. Last night before dinner we had taken a nighttime safari, and saw another implausibility of wildebeests cross in front of our jeep, but it is hard to see the animals well in the dark. I much prefer our daytime drives.

This morning we again identified many birds, a puku, spur fowl (which I first thought the guides were calling fur fowl, even though that didn't sound quite right), and Tsessebe waterbuck, an antelope larger than the impala. And then our guide got a call from the other jeep: as we had been yesterday, this time they were stuck in the mud. Ours is the heavier jeep, so we went to rescue them by pulling them out backwards. In the bush, everyone helps each other.

Yesterday they could not help us, as they would have gotten stuck as well, and that would have been a more difficult situation for everyone. So we were on our own. The men suggested we all push the jeep out of the mud, but our guide smiled and simply left the jeep, taking his machete, and walked over to a tree and whacked off a few branches to place under the back wheels of the jeep. An instant corduroy road. We all climbed down to give him the best chance of storming out, and, on the second try, he made it! But of course he couldn't stop right there or he might have gotten stuck again, so the six of us walked a ways carefully through the mud to a drier part of the trail, and then clambered back up into the vehicle. We were saved. But on our short walk several of us could hear a lion in the near distance. What we found close by were the remains of his/her kill, a zebra's head and bones lying there, waiting to be completely picked clean. We did not linger.

These are such resourceful guides! Not only can they spot and identify all the birds, animals, insects, trees, plants, flowers, rivers, tracks, and dung, telling us whether the animal was male or female by the taste of the dung, our guides are able to handle any situation! Most guides here are also polyglots and speak multiple languages and dialects, putting our American educations to shame. We could learn a lot from this African way of life. Every day I am absolutely impressed by --and thankful for-- all that our wonderful guides know, and share so generously.

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