Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dreams of a boy from Bandon

When I planed my first African safari it was important that it be a traditional hunt and not just a few days spent on some one's private property amongst fences. My vision was one of the days long past when porters, cooks, trackers came along into the African bush to make the experience as pleasurable for the hunter as possible. One such tradition is an old English custom of not only having a mid day meal but more like a formal affair at large. As custom would have it the meal is typically set overlooking some panoramic view whenever possible so that one can watch the awesome wildlife while having a spot of tea. All table arrangements are indeed formal considering it is taking place hundreds of miles from civilization. Nice tables and chairs are the norm as well as a formal table setting complete with white napkins, wine and a full setting of utensils.

Traditionally lunch is taken under the shade of an Acacia, Baobab or if you're lucky a blooming Jacaranda tree and served by immaculately uniformed staff. Everything from the chilled wine to the freshly pressed napkins serve to remind you that, in the bush, very little has changed since the first safaris over a hundred years ago. After lunch, if in the camp, with the African sun at its hottest and whilst most of the game rest up in the shade, I would often retire to my tent for a siesta or spend the afternoon sketching, or entering notes into my journal. For me these were special moments when I could reflect on having grown up with a true love for all things nature and now finding myself living the dream that I had growing up.

It is equally as important to dress well for these occasions which also means having enough supplies to wash in the field and dress appropriately. Dinner is even a considerably more formal affair but in the end the experience is one that can not be forgotten. Prior to dinner it is a custom to take part in Boma and then retire for a shower and to dress appropriately for dinner. Boma is not at all unlike sitting around the fire reminiscing the days events over a good glass of scotch on the rocks with the company of the guide, cameraman, driver and friends. Each evening at boma the camp dog named Micky because of his black and white colors took a liking to me and insisted on sitting in my lap. It may have had something to do with the bone I gave him. One afternoon as a gag I placed an elephant thigh bone in his dog dish. He just looked at me as if to say, "Are you kidding me?"

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