The story so far: So where was I? Ah yes. I was keeping a full list of every single animal that we saw while on our short but terribly romantic safari. As a slightly obssessive compulsive completist type, the list had begun not at the gates of the nature reserve, but with the sleeping cat outside our hotel that morning, and had carried on after wed left the gates of the wildlife-rich parkplace, and was continuing as we reached the lodge, and it began to get dark.
Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug.
Bug. Bug. Bug.
Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Beetle. Bug. Bug.
Bug. Bug. Cricket. Bug. Bug.
Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug. Bug.
Bug. Bug. Bug
After about five and a half minutes in the Safari Lodge where we would be spending the night I decided to stop writing down all the bugs we spotted. My hand was getting tired.
Im not very scared of bugs, really, not like mice. I hate the mice so much more than the bugs. Mice hide, and sneak about, and you never know where they are, and you cant have any control over them at all and they scuttle and they wee in your shoes. Bugs are out there, theyre basically harmless, apart from the ones that kill you, and, I learnt quite quickly, when the bugs outnumber you by quite the extent they do in Kenya, you cant hate the bugs. Theyre just THERE.
Which is lucky, really, because our Lodge had been built as a kind of a haven for little winged, wriggling and jumpy beasties. Geographically out in the middle of nowhere, with not a light to be seen for miles around, the dining room sat in the middle of the lodge – a tall, wooden roof: rafters and banana-tree-thatching stretching up to a point 60 feet above our heads, filled with chandeliers, uplights, spotlights, and fluorescents.
And also bugs.
The walls of the Great Dining Hall, were, you see, open. On all sides. Wide open. This great beacon of welcomingness and food, drawing bugs of all nations to rest their weary fangs in the eaves-above-my-evening.
I immediately smelled a bug when the waiter showed us to our table. Instead of pulling out the chair (which is mannered, and usual, if a little unneccesary) he drew back our chairs, one at a time, turned it over, and shook it, before putting it back down.
Of course, the first bit looked like the usual waiters pull-and-tuck, so in order to avoid us getting all going-to-sit-down-and-falling-over on his (our) ass (es) he stuck the international sign for WAIT! (one finger, index, straight up, palm forward) (as opposed to the other way round, one index finger, straight up, back-of-hand forward, which is the polite Christian way of non-sweary-swearing) up, before he started the lodge-specific waitermove known as picking-up-and-shaking-to-get-rid-of-the-fucking-bugs.
When wed taken our seats, he took our order for drinks, brought the drinks, set them down on the table, taken the coasters from the table, and put the on top of the glasses. To stop the bugs falling in. It was too late.
Im sorry, I promised you a romantic ending, didnt I? Well, as we both agreed, if two people were the kind of people to make promises to each other, this would be the kind of place to do it.
And, when faced with them en masse, I cope with them in much the same way as any rational human being would. With intense inner terror, and an outer patina of British Stoicism.
I fought through dinner, as crickets hopped merrily in and out of my rice, and little green bugs burrowed their way into my spinach. I said nice things to my best Beloved, about how happy I was, as I watched the man next to me knocked off his chair by a fast-descending mantis-type-thing.
After a relaxing repast (seven minutes forty-five seconds, including starter), we took a walk out (OUT?!) through the lack owall onto the verandah. We looked up. All the stars of the justsouthern hemisphere were there. Thousands of them. Thousands of thousands, piled on top of each other in the near-perfect darkness.
Settling in a deckchair, I took a long swig of my bug-infested bottle and turned to my Beloved.
You know what? I love you. And this is beautiful. Really beautiful. Thank you for being here with me. You know what else? While were here we should talk about FUCK!!! FUCK!!! GETITOUT GETITOUT GETITOUT! ISITOUT???
Because there was a cricket in my hair. Flailing. When it left, three more dropped off the outside-side of the verandah roof to take its place. I tried to be stoic for some several minutes more, but found my relaxed post-dinner romanticising punctuated by sweary shouting, throwing my arms about and headbutting air.
Eventually (three minutes twenty seconds) into my polished British Stoicism routine (Oh no, no Im fine, happy, baby, just [FLAILS WILDLY] Fine I finally cracked.
I think the end to our most-romantic-of-romantic-evenings involved phrases like Fuck this and fuck them and Bed for fucksake and Screw them all, seriously and bugs.
Dont worry, there was another more romantic evening several nights later, but youre not hearing about that, because its already taken too long to tell this one.
But here is my lesson learnt. Learning these things so I can pass them on so you dont have to learnem yourself:
No matter how much you love someone, it is Very Difficult Indeed to say anything romantic when you have a cricket butt-fucking your fringe. That is all.