Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Oh The Stories We Could Tell

"Talking to myself again wondering if this traveling is good. Is there something better doing we'd be doing if we could? But oh the stories we could tell."
 - Everly Brothers

These are the song lyrics I chose to quote in my high school yearbook. They appear under my photo. At the time, I credited the lyrics to Tom Petty because I had no idea that he didn't write the song. But in fairness to me I graduated high school before the Internet was invented so how was I supposed to know it was actually the Everly Brothers?

While we were in Zambia we had the unique opportunity to hear two tall tales. In the evening, after the afternoon activity and before dinner, there was a campfire at each of the Wilderness Safari Camps. After a few visits to the campfire, Mr. Deep and I noticed that we seemed to be the only guests enjoying it. This was understandable when we were the only guests at Jacana but a little strange when we arrived at Toka Leya. Maybe none of the other guests knew there was a campfire? Or maybe they just didn't care? But at Toka Leyo Mr. Deep and I were the lone regulars at the campfire or, as it's referred to when you are out in the African wilderness, bush TV.

On our second to last night at Toka Leya, Mr. Deep and I were sitting (alone of course) around the bush TV when one of the managers of Toka Leya came down to talk with us. Maybe he was intrigued and wanted to meet the couple who actually sat around the campfire? The manager's name was Stephen which you will remember is also Mr. Deep's name. We ended up chatting with Stephen for a while and that's when he told us these two stories. 

A very cool fire pit. I mean bush TV. 
Stephen and Stephen 
The first story was told to Stephen when he was young by a friend of his father. The friend had been working far away from his village making and selling charcoal. As an aside when we were out driving with Godfrey we had seen men on bikes with baskets full of charcoal so going to the forest and making charcoal to sell is a thing.  

While making charcoal the man began to feel ill. He realized based on his symptoms that he had malaria and so he decided to try to make the long walk back to his village before the illness worsened. It was a long walk of about seven hours. After about three hours of walking the man spotted a herd of elephants along the path. He was nervous because elephants can be unpredictable. Also by this time he was feeling very sick and weak and although he cannot be sure what happened next he thinks he fainted from his illness. 

When the man woke up he was confused and unsure where we was. He was no longer on the path and instead was lying the shade of a large tree. He also could not find the bag he had been carrying. After a few minutes of searching for his bag he finally spotted it way up high hanging from a tree branch. The bag was hanging too high for the man to reach.

The man continued on his journey home. When he arrived he was very sick. He finally began to recover he told his family the story about what had happened to him on the path. The man said that as the herd of elephants was the last thing he remembered seeing, that he believed that while he was passed out that an elephant picked him up and carried him under the tree setting him down in the shade. He also believed that an elephant had hung his bag high in the tree to keep it safe. The man's family was skeptical of this story but when he was strong enough they accompanied him to the tree and saw his bag hanging higher than a man would be capable of placing it. It was then that they began to believe the man's story. In order to retrieve the bag, someone had to climb up the tree and cut down the branch from which the bag hung. 

The second story was about Moto Moto. You may recognize this name as the name of the hippo in the movie Madagascar. I didn't because I haven't seen a Disney movie since the 70's. Anyway, Moto Moto as he came to be known (he was named by guests at Toka Leya) was a young male hippo living near Toka Leya but struggling to survive. Male hippos can be very cruel to each other and the staff working at the lodge often noticed Moto Moto had scars and cuts caused by fighting with the other male hippos. 

Moto Moto was very smart though. He began to notice that the other male hippos were afraid of humans and would not venture near the lodge and so he carved out a territory for himself and made the beach on the banks of the Zambezi next to the lodge his home. He often slept underneath the Toka Leya lodge deck. Under the deck was a perfect hippo home because hippos have very sensitive skin and cannot stay out in the hot daytime sun for too long. After about four years of living at the lodge Moto Moto was big and strong and he reentered the hippo pod as a dominant male. Sometimes the Toka Leya staff still spot Moto Moto out swimming and walking with his pod. 

Mr. Deep snapped some photos of hippos out of the water. A very rare thing to see! Could one of these guys be
Moto Moto? 

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.