Mzungu Down! – Part 1

Last weekend a group of 11 of us decided to venture forth to the Masai Mara for the ultimate safari experience. We set off early on Friday morning, in our two trusty safari vans – and by early afternoon had made it to “Manyatta Camp” in the Mara.  We were showed to our very flashy tents by two Masai gentlemen, who were fully equipped with Masai robes, stretched out ears, lion tooth necklaces, tyre shoes, machetes, and clubs for bonking lions on the head with.  Our tents were not exactly the sleeping bad and campfire scenario we had imagined: with double beds and (dodgy) bathrooms inside the tent.  I must say right now, that this is the first place in Kenya where I decided against using the tap water to brush my teeth- as it flowed dark brown from the tap.After a quick lunch, we set off on our first real safari.  We immediately saw 4 of the big five – the leopard eluding us.  It was a highly successful and fun filled afternoon, leaving us eager to wake up for the full day of game drive on Saturday.  Not before living it up in the camp on Saturday night though.  The booze did flow, and a party was had.  On a more civilised note- Maxim and I went out star-gazing, as I have to say, I have never seen a clearer and more beautiful sky than that of the Masai Mara.  The stars were so bright and beautiful.  We lay in the grass of the camp for an hour or so, just watching the sky.

Saturday morning we were all up, and eager to set off for our full day of safari.  Little did we know what the day had in store for us…

We were straight into the animal viewing – beginning the day with cheetahs stalking a group of gazelles (then getting lazy and giving up), a group of lions sunbathing, and then within a split second jumping up and pouncing at another gazelle.  It must be stated here, that gazelles are incredibly stupid animals.  When faced with a group of lions or cheetahs stalking them – they stand by watching the predators surround them.  They then run 50 metres down the bush, and stop.  Because, of course, no big cat could possibly deal with the wit of moving along such a huge distance.  Apparently, warthogs are even more stupid though, because they have a 10 second memory.

I will take a slight detour here, to fill you with some of the million facts that I gathered over this weekend.  We learnt that elephants eat 200 kgs of food every day, and are awake for 22 hours a day.  Also, elephants and hippos belong to the same family as the tiny rodentesque hyrax – sharing 90-something % genetic material.  The difference between cheetahs and leopards are in their spots:  cheetahs having spots, and leopards having little rings.  Cheetahs also have tear marks on their faces.  Lions live to be about 12 years old, and live with their family until they are roughly 7, when they mature and “get married”.  I’ll stop, I’m drawing a blank on other facts right now.

We were most keen to see a leopard, it being the only animal that had so far eluded us.  We were having a great time, standing up in our safari van, when tragedy stuck.  We went over a bump, and suddenly, something was clearly wrong.  Tom’s shoulder had dislocated and decided to move to the front of his chest.  Our driver, James, didn’t quite get the seriousness of the situation, and continued bombing along the bumps and ditches of the Mara.  In the back, the rest of us were somewhat stunned to see Tom’s shoulder kind of pop back in, and then Tom proceed to black out.  So there we were, hurtling across the bush, with three of us holding up an unconscious person, and trying to wake him.

It was at this point, that we stopped the van, managed to wake Tom up, and piled out of the car, in a panicked state of mind.  We started calling around every doctor or medical person we knew- being miles away from any form of medical care (70 kms of dirt track, at best).  We also started jumping at passing safari vans, demanding whether there were any doctors on board.  To our utter amazement and luck, one van stopped, full of final year doctor trainees on their safari holiday.  Out jumped two of them who were most confident with dislocations, and they did their best to find a solution.  However, out in the middle of the Mara not much could be done.  By this time Tom’s arm was paralysed, with no feeling, and he was passing in and out of consciousness at an alarming rate.  Go to the field clinic we would have to, said the doctors.  And the boys started carrying Tom into the van.

It was at this point, with roughly 15 of us scattered outside the vans that we heard the shout: “Shit, Lions, EVERYBODY GET IN A VAN”.  Unbeknown to us, 8 lions had encircled us, and were closing in on the group of easy prey wandering around the bush.  One of them was at best 20 metres away from us, and trotting towards us.

Tom, Max and I set off to the field clinic.  Max and I being thrown around the van, trying to hold still an unconscious Tom.  It was all very dramatic, and eventually, we pulled up at a posh safari lodge, where the Masai Mara’s only “doctor” resides…

 

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