Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Storytelling and Stuck in the Maasai Mara

The Saskatoon Storytellers Guild met last week for their usual 3rd Friday gathering. Our host this month chose “Stuck” for our theme. As she pointed out in her mail this could have many contexts and meanings and I think even she was surprised at the range and variety of stories that came out of it.

There were folks who had been stuck for words, or on a single word; folks stuck in traffic, or whose car batteries had failed in remote spots. Of course stuck in snow and ice cropped up – we do live in Saskatchewan. There was even an unfortunate younger sibling who had been taken to the outhouse (biffy, long drop) and had gone through the hole with near-disastrous consequences! Another sibling had been the subject of a prank when someone had coated a chair with contact cement!

My effort at a stuck story took me back four months to our family trip in Kenya. In December we were in the Maasai Mara and having a wonderful time doing the tourist thing. Part of the experience inevitably involved a game drive and so off we headed into the park. The rains had been heavy and I later learned that there had been none heavier since 1961. Luckily we had a very experienced driver and guide and so the black cotton soil held no terrors for us. Black cotton is a thick gumbo, glue-like substance. I have seen combine harvesters stuck in the stuff.

As we crested over s slight rise we saw, in the stream crossing below, a Toyota van thoroughly mired. Our crew hopped out and went to chat with the driver. Next thing we had backed out and made a loop across another, less sticky spot. 

We came back to the mired van and after much discussion, the employment of a towrope and some engine revving the van popped out like a champagne cork. 

 While the crew were working away I had a chat with the single tourist, a middle-aged Welshman who had been on his dream safari. He said that this was the tenth time he had been stuck that morning and then I found out why. The van was a 2-wheel drive version. I did not tell him that no one in his right mind would take a 2WD off-road anywhere in Kenya, let alone in the Mara, on black cotton, during the rains.

We parted our ways, wishing the Welshman luck and in no time our guide had seen a lion’s whisker under a small bush. Of course we went over to take a look and saw a single female with her young cub half hidden between her body and the bush.

Naturally our grand daughters thought this was “cute” and we spent some time and several photo frames recording the scene for posterity.

Suddenly the pair of them looked away from us to something behind our 4WD. Lo and behold the Welshman and his driver were just about up our exhaust pipe. After a few minutes we headed away and went on the search for the next excitement. Ben had told us that a pair of rhinos was known to be in this region of the park. The lion was just a bonus.

We looked back to see how the van was doing, only to see its wheels spinning in the muck. We did not turn back to pull or push. Not with mama lion only five metres from the vehicle.

We soon found the rhino, hanging out no more than a kilometre or so from our lion pair. Of course the cameras got rolling again. For me it was a real treat as I had put immobilizing darts into something over a hundred of them in former times, so it was a pleasure to just enjoy the spectacle.  To our relief we found that the Welshman and his driver appeared just behind us.  I did wonder how many more times they got stuck that day.


Diane said...

Interesting post and great photos. Diane

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