Posts Tagged With: outdoors

WARTHOG PARENTING

 

 

The common warthog is medium-sized species; their head-and-body lengths range from 0.9 to 1.5 m (3.0 to 4.9 ft.) and shoulder height is from 63.5 to 85 cm (25.0 to 33.5 in). Females, at 45 to 75 kg (99 to 165 lb.), are typically a bit smaller and lighter in weight than males, at 60 to 150 kg (130 to 330 lb.).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warthog

 

Years ago our family was on our first African Safari in the Masai Mara. Masai being the name of the local natives; Mara is the name of the wide river running through the area.  The Mara is beautiful, twisting and winding through Kenya, home to herds of hippopotami and the giant Southern crocodiles. The Mara is far more dangerous than the Nile Rivers in the North: it is a fact that most human killings by animals in Africa are by Hippopotami.

We stayed at Kichewa Tembo Camp, in a spacious tent complete with an outdoor toilet, outdoor shower. One morning while my husband and our two (very) young children were sound asleep, I thought I might leave our tent and step outside to watch and photograph the sunrise over the Mara, hoping to see some of the animals living normally, waking and coming out to graze.

On our arrival we were cautioned to walk only on wide bare dirt paths or where native grasses were kept mowed down to nubs. Tall grasses often contain deadly surprises, like lion, cheetah, hyena: all predators laying low, sleeping off an evening of hard work.

On this particular morning, light spread slowly across the sky, first a metallic grey-green turning blue, exposing the short grass, as the first flickers of orange peeked above the horizon. The sun rose tentatively, picking up a rainbow of pinks, taking over the early morning blues; and awakening the inhabitants of the savannah to bask in her full beauty.

Delighted with the display, I sat cross-legged on the prickly short grass in the semi-dark, and indulged my then habit: in the untouched beauty of nature, I lit a lousy menthol cigarette! I smoked and waited, eager to see how this show would progress, confident that I, although alone, was securely seated on the protective short grass, therefore I would be in no danger.

When the sun fully rose above the horizon and spread its light, the gods opened the gates of nature and thundering herds wandered in: wildebeest, zebra, water buffalo, giraffe followed by one delicate Thomson Gazelle: mostly early-morning hooved creatures.

Apparently lion, cheetah, leopard, cervil, and elephant and others were either sound asleep after a night’s marauding or waited for Group One to tear up the earth and kick up some protein or perhaps to drive other predators away. Nature has ways of sequencing to which I am not privy.

I was enthralled with this display, and sat cross-legged and slack jawed with a half-smoked cigarette in my right hand, camera in my lap when I heard something nearby. I heard footsteps. Then I heard an animal make a snorty noise like a sleeping husband and I saw movement to the right of me.

Was it instinct that told me to freeze, to not make any eye-contact with the Leader of this Pack? Or was it because he was plain scary looking? He led his family of four Little Warthogs; Mama brought up the rear. They all slowed down, eyes on me. I froze in the clarity of my situation.

I used my peripheral vision to keep track of them, making no eye contact at all, worried about challenging them with those babies. They stopped for what seemed like a lifetime as I remained a statue. The damn cigarette was burning its way to my finger nails but I dared not move. As I worried about the scent of my burnt nails Papa moved on, but the children wanted to get a closer look at me. And now Mama snorted at them.

I dropped my eyes when I heard Papa turn around, hoping he knew the snort came from Mama, not me. They all went quiet. I felt twelve eyes on me. I kept mine on the grass, avoiding challenge, hoping I would see any flicker of movement; wondering what I might need to do: sling my Nikon at the Dad?

The whole family snorted at me. They then trotted away and disappeared from sight.

I looked at my watch and found it was a heart stopping eight minute encounter.

The cigarette, burnt down to the filter was out and it scorched my fingernail painfully. The odor of burning hair was on me.

Perhaps they moved on because I now smelled worse than they smelled.   I don’t know whether that is good or bad. What I do know, is these Warthog Parents had expectations of their youngsters. They trained them to obey so they could learn how to be safe and stay alive. I guess I was a part of that lesson.

A lot of parents today could learn from that band of Warthogs.

 

NOTE: Wikipedia is a source I use frequently. They are in need of financial support, approaching a possibility of shut down in the near future. I encourage all who access their information to go to their site and support them J

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The Pyramids at Giza

I’m not wanting to go back to The Tree today. I got a little overwhelmed yesterday with family questions that I desperately want answered. I have a shirt tail cousin who was adopted as an infant, then in her adult years found she belonged to one of my tribes. She has the same experience as I – sometimes we feel like we are walking on bombs.

And, today Bes’ Gopher sent me a link for newspaper searches. I then found I’m kind of afraid to dig deeper. I decided that like my good friend Scarlett, I shall think about that tomorrow!

~0~

I decided to have my new blog speak for me to decorate it a little, find something to share. I was delighted with the synchronicity of finding this photo. It symbolizes a wonderful friendship with our taxi driver, Muhammad, who was shot badly in his leg and captured by Israelis in the Seven Days War.

According to Muhammad, his wounds were too severe to treat: he needed an amputation which the Israeli doctors were sure he would not survive. They bandaged him up, gave him a supply of food and water then put him on a camel to head across the Sinai to his home. Obviously he reached Cairo and his family, but his story of making his “last” visit to the family tombs is mind boggling. He is an honest man and there is no reason for him to fabricate a story. His story is mind bending, deserving of it’s own post.

Cairo, in 1983 was one of our first holidays abroad and we decided the best way to celebrate The Sahara was to ride on horseback from the stables in Giza up through the sand dunes to watch a spectacular event: the sunrise over the pyramids.

Steven was nearly 4, so they put him on a gentle, broad old mare, Rebecca, six years old got a pony and Larry, their dad got a rather spirited mare. Then my husband of fourteen years announced that he never rode a horse before. I learned to ride bareback on Old Red as a kid, so we switched horses were very happy with this change.

Larry, as man of the family, headed up our little troop, followed by 5 year old Rebecca with her streaming chestnut curls. I brought up the rear, behind towhead Steven, whose little legs were too short to reach both stirrups, so he stood on the left stirrup and rested his right leg on the saddle and his right hand on the saddle horn and no reins. He rode at a 45 degree angle and in the dark of dawn and his blonde hair he looked like a little yellow thistle sticking out of the old mares side. Our guide rode behind me on camel back.

We saw outines of shadow dunes in the pre-dawn lights. Stars sparkled in a soft midnight blue sky, while vague patterns of gently sloping dunes seemed to flicker and disappear. The stables of Giza were gone, the pyramids not yet visible, only endless dunes and endless time.

We rode in respectful silence. We gasped as first rays of sunrise back lit the pyramids making them dark silhouettes. As the sun rose higher, we silently rode toward toward the pyramids and back into endless time, sobered by ancient shapes and shadows.

I believe this is the only way to approach the pyramids: lose yourself in the desert and darkness and slowly allow them to be revealed by the sun. Some might call it a religious experience, but I remember feeling I became one with antiquity.

On the way back to the Hotel Jolieville we drove through The City of The Dead. Muhammad’s English was quite good, certainly better than the “Jive Talk” Arabic I’d picked up that made people laugh.

“So Muhammad, who lives in The City of The Dead?” From the back seat I saw Muhammad shoot him a funny look.

“Nobody.”

“No, I mean, look – these are beautiful homes and there are a lot of people walking around, do wealthy people live here?”

“No. Nobody lives here. They can’t because it is The City of The Dead.

“Why can’t they?”

It didn’t take too much longer before Muhammad came up with the clear reply.

“It is because the dead people cannot live.”

As an afterthought, he added, “Since you all now stink of horses, today would be the best day to go to Memphis where you can ride the camels.”

And so we did.

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