“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Monday, 8 August 2016

Day 11 - Monday

breakfast at Waterberry
Our morning tea tray did not arrive to wake us this morning. (perhaps the staff thought we needed a lie in after our campfire wine-fest last night!) so I ventured over to the main house in my nightie and trousers to get us a couple of mugs, only to find a very apologetic Wilson who assured me he would be over in a few minutes with the tray.
Today was destined to be a slobbing out day, to explore the lodge gardens and photograph the birds. That is, if we could stop laughing at them... the Hoopoes were hilarious.... they move in groups making loud cackling noises at the same time as swinging themselves back and forth on their perches. Like rocking birds.
Tracey laughing at the Hoopoes
After breakfast, we followed the nature walk past the tree house and swing, round the ponds and along a glade path filled with butterflies of all colours. When we returned for lunch, there was a hippo on the opposite bank of the river, fully out of the water and soaking up the sun. Tracey was mesmerised and so we ordered a wine each and sat on the deck facing the far bank. A family of elephants came down to drink and various birds came and went, but the hippo remained; splayed out in the sand, hardly moving. For two and half hours Tracey sat glued to her binoculars and became extremely adept at drinking without looking as Wilson continued to top up our glasses and the hippo continued to sleep.
the lively thatch
At one point I heard a gasp to my left and looked to see Tracey sat next to me, clutching her binoculars, and covered in a large chunk of straw that had fallen from the thatched roof above - the laughing took awhile to subside, by which point various members of staff were surrounding us asking if she was ok and not able to get a word out of her. The manager was called and soon came running, having been told there had been a "catastrophe" - we laughed harder. Africans really are very caring. Desperate to get us out of harms way they tried to get us to move elsewhere in case more fell from the roof.... but the hippo still had not moved. We needed to answer the question.... do hippos belly-flop when they get in the water? All other seats had obscured viewing, so we inched forward to the front of the decking and continued our vigil in front of the river. The staff found this hilarious, but simply topped up our wine and let us be. People came to look at the roof and eventually ladders appeared as well as a thatcher to make some repairs. They think the monkeys pull the thatching to get at the insects and bugs, but as yet we had not seen a single monkey at Waterberry.
Our sunset cruise boat left the jetty at 430pm and the closer it got, the more excited we became that the hippo might remain in position for us to go over there in the boat and get some photos, but it was not to be - about 4pm she stood up, ambled down to the water and slid in without a single splash - as gracefully as ever. Well, as gracefully as a giant water cow can anyway.
The boat cruise was as good as the last. But the highlight has to go to the river otter we saw as the light began to fade. It swam across some yards in front when we were on our way back, and then spent a good few minutes popping up in various places amongst the rocks to watch us, watching it. Lovely little creature and a great memory for me - my first African otter.
Otter in near darkness - love my Nikon D4!
When we got back, we discovered that the hospitality team had set us up a private dining table on our veranda to celebrate Tracey's 50th, complete with rose petals and paper-bag lanterns - I'm sure they think we're a couple! We had our own waiter, called Matthew, who speaks 50 African languages, taught us to fold little men with napkins and kept the wine flowing throughout the evening. The food was sublime and although the evening got a little chilly towards the end, we ended our time at Waterberry with yet another cracking day.

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