As previously mentioned, for the sake of posterity, I made careful note in my Moleskine of every animal that we saw from the moment we left the hotel reception, all the way through our safari. Here is my list.
Cat asleep under bus.
Possibly a bird.
Really big slug.
Chicken (or heard chicken noise).
A small dog.
Goat, some (together),
Look, you have to realise there was quite a long time we were in the minivan and making a list before we got to any kind of Safari type of area. Most of those animals were between my dozing off and in the suburbs of Mombasa.
Where India was dotted with cows, which at least had the excuse of being a bit sacred, Kenya was dotted with a billion goats, which had the excuse of – well, of tasting nice, producing milk and fucking a lot, one can only assume.
There were other things to be seen in the suburbs of Mombasa, of course, quite apart from the goats. On the ferry that carries people across the river in their thousands, there was an enormous wooden bos with a slot that read ‘ANTI-CORRUPTION SUGGESTION BOX’ that I never managed to get a picture of. There were little run-around minivan buses, hundreds of them. Matatus, they’re called, holding 18 people on 8 seats, and each decorated with seemingly random colourful transfers saying ‘De Lynx’, or ‘Take the Bull by the Horn’ ‘WickedMobile’, ‘Surfs UP or, my favourite, and possibly my new strapline: ‘Innasity Lady’.
I became hooked on the smell of the countryside just outside the city. Burnt wood, acacia, rosemary, and hot earth. I was in love with that, and with everything. I became a soppy bastard, this much is true.
After a while I slackened on the initial mission statement, and decided to resume my comprehensive list whenever I had different types of animal to mark down, rather than different members of the same breed (or the same member of the same breed moving faster than the traffic, it was sometimes hard to tell). So for the sake of you, I will pick up my incredible comprehensive list at the gates of the reserve.
(For what seems like a long time but isn’t, we see nothing, then suddenly!)
Zebra AND warthog.
Dik-Dik. Oryx. Termite (mound). Red bug. Elephant!
Weaver birds (tree fulluvum). ‘Waterbuck’ Thompson’s Other Gazelle.
Other Gazelles (not Thompson’s). Almost a leopard! Dik-Dik.
Realising that no matter how many dik-dik I wrote down (and how many I saw) the name dik-dik wasn’t going to become substantially more funny, I decided to quit while ahead, and stop writing down every dik-dik I saw. I got a bit bored of dik-dik, if I’m honest. There’s only so much dik-dik one girl can take. Etc.
I know it seems a little over-fortunate, but I’m extremely glad we could only afford a little pootly one-night safari. Its the one thing no one ever mentions. Theyre a bit dull.
Dull in a beautiful way, of course, but, as any person with an attention span as short as mine can tell you, theres only so much gazing at bushes and willing them to be monkeys you can do.
After a while you realise theres not that much point hanging your head out of the bumpy bus, because if theres actually something to see, the drivers will all radio each other, race toward the same point and youll know where there might be a leopard because you have to join a traffic jam to see it. Or not see it, rather.
And speaking of not seeing things, I should tell you about the lion we ran over.