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  • Marilyn Saltzman

Sept. 10 – Fleeing the baboons

After a breakfast of toast and peanut butter served on tissues, we got ready to begin our independent safari. We decided we’d better store our food in the frig and cupboards. We opened a cupboard above the frig, which we had ignored the night before, and found cups, dishes, utensils, pots and even wine glasses! Duh.

We drove just a short distance from our rondavel when I spotted some giraffe on the side of the road, followed closely by a herd of impalas.  I began eagerly checking my “tick list” in the brochure I had purchased at the park entrance. Kudus,  Guinea fowl, elephants… all in quick succession. A rhino in the dried riverbed refused to raise his head, so we sat patiently for 10 minutes to determine whether he was a white or black rhino. (Actually both types are gray, and one has a WIDE mouth – lost in translation!)  We had been rolling down the windows for our photographs when suddenly a family of baboons came into sight. “Don’t roll down the window,” Malcolm warned, “They are very aggressive.”

So later that afternoon, when Judy and I saw a large family of baboons cross the river and run around the perimeter of our camp, we panicked.  We mentioned the approach to two South African women enjoying a large spread of food on the table in the open air picnic area, and they seemed totally unconcerned.  Judy and I, however, ran for the rondavel as two of the baboons came through the camp gate.

When we felt it was safe to venture back outside, we returned to the edge of the electrified fence and saw two herd of elephants – a total of about 63 – on the opposite bank of

the river. Only one of them went to the river and put its 100,000-muscle trunk to work drinking and cooling his body with large sprays of water. This time three vervet monkeys tried to block our way “home,” but we persevered and prepared a dinner of chicken breasts in wine sauce (mixed with a few ginger candies with little result) and veggies.

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