You know the kind of moment that I am talking about, don't you? Where everything, if only very briefly, slides into place, everything clicks, everything is just the way that you want it to be. If only for a moment, a brief, fleeting moment. It can happen anywhere, sometimes when you least expect it. Sitting on a bench looking out over the sea, as the sun shines on your face, a slight breeze lifts a wisp of hair off your face and a bird sings sweetly right behind you. Curling up in front of a toasty warm fire, watching the flames dancing as your cat nuzzles up against you, warm, soft fur, whiskers tickling your nose. You do know what I mean, don't you?
Well, one of those "moments" happened to me while I was in Namibia a couple of years ago. This moment did not come easily. It required the patience of a saint - which obviously I don't have, but luckily I am as stubborn as a mule when I really want something. So, there we all were, the whole safari gaggle, along with 50 million other tourists (OK, so I exaggerate, but the fact that there were a lot of people there is important for my moment, so stay with me), all watching the elephants hog the watering hole. This was pretty good, but it was not my moment. However, my ears were flapping as well as any elephants and I picked up a useful snippet of information. If you want to see the lions, be here at midnight.
Ah, a secret assignation ......... I will be there. Well, who doesn't want to see the lions?
Apparently, no one except me!
OK, so it was dark and surprisingly cold. The few folks that were hanging around when I arrived at about 11:30pm slowly drifted off, but I persevered. So what if my toes were starting to freeze? So what if my bum had gone incredibly numb? So what I was all alone, out there in the wilderness - I was going to see the lions, no matter what. Midnight came.......and went....... All was very quiet, there was no one there, just me.
But wait, I hear footsteps ....... someone is coming, someone very large........... nope, definitely not a lion. No, what we have here is a rather splendid pachyderm. So, there we were. The Elephant and I. Just the two of us. I am looking at him and he, yes he is definitely looking at me. Right at me. He is lifting his head, bringing his ears forward. He is kind of swaying slightly from side to side, tilting his head back and forth, leaning forward. He is raising his trunk and pointing it right at me. He is checking me out! There we are, staring right at each other, each of us checking the other one out. A chill ran right down my spine and it had nothing to do with the cold. It was the pure thrill of having this elephant all to myself, knowing that he felt just the same way about me. Now that is a moment!
Elephants do tend to hog water holes, and when there are elephants around, most of the other animals hang back from the water hole. Once our little moment had passed and my newfound elephant chum had wandered off with a bit of a snort and a rather large fart, more animals started to make their way down to the water hole. There were a pair of rhinos that spent about an hour just staring at each other, snout to snout, horn to horn. They didn't really do anything, they just huffed and puffed at each other a lot. At times they sounded like a pair of steam locomotives stopped at a station, anticipating pulling away, full steam ahead. At other times, the air escaped from other orifices, and the ensuing sounds would have delighted and amused all small boys for hours! It amused me for quite some time........
Then there were those most gorgeous of creatures - the giraffes. Poised and elegant, graceful and refined, their long, slender legs picking their delicate way down to the edge of the water hole. Reaching the water for a drink is not an easy task when your head is so far above the water. So, the giraffe has to carefully spread its legs before bending its neck, like a young sapling bending in the wind, to reach down to the water's surface.
I wonder if it is easy to swallow with your head down past your toes and a neck longer than a elephant's nose?
Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the lions. They did eventually come, three hours later. See, I told you I can be stubborn when I want. You get to a point when you say to yourself. "Well, I have waited this long, I am not bloody well giving up now!" Well, I do. Perhaps the more sensible people out there don't. Anyhoo, the lions certainly came. The first you knew of their imminent arrival was the low, grumbling, rolling bellows that boomed out over the plains. At first I wondered if a storm was coming, but as the lions got closer, the rumbling coalesced into deep, resonant roars. The water hole cleared pretty quick, let me tell you. Even the two locomotive rhinos cleared out sharpish as soon as they heard the lions. So, just me and the lions then. Not that the lions were taking any notice of me, they had other things to keep them occupied. Like have a drink, and nice roll in the dust and a bit of taking care of business, if you know what I mean (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!). But you don't need to see "those" photos, do you?
P.S. Just in case you were worried about me, the whole compound was surrounded by a 10ft. fence, so Iwas never in any danger of being a lion's midnight snack.