My African Dream sneak peek...
“You want a Coke?” he asked after putting the packet back.“They have that out here?” I asked, frowning.
He laughed a soundless laugh. “This may be Kenya, but we are still part of the world.”
I grinned sheepishly, feeling embarrassed. “Yes, thank you.”
Banda walked over to a hut, dipped his head in a greeting, and the woman curtsied back. She disappeared inside and soon returned with two bottles. What must have been her husband walked from behind the round structure and smiled widely as he greeted Banda. They did a bit of a jig-dance, slapping wrists together and doing some kind of a thumb war. Probably the Kenyan version of a high-five. I looked around and noticed something hanging in a tree a few yards up the road. It appeared to be a dead animal, but focussing better, I saw a carcass. A man sat underneath it, sharpening his knife on something resembling a stone. Banda returned with the drinks. “What’s that man doing?” I asked.
“He’s the local butcher.”
“He’s what?” I asked. Banda laughed again, a habit I now realised would be well practised when I was around.
“He hunts the animal down and then hangs it up so all can see he has fresh meat.”
“But won’t it spoil out in the sun?” I asked, my mouth gaping.
“It doesn’t happen often. What he doesn’t sell he gives to his wife to make stew for supper. He can feed his family and make some money on the side.”
He must have seen my amazement, and responded without making a joke.
“Come, let’s go. And don’t worry; we have coolers at the camp.”
The other vehicles drove on when we had stopped, and Banda now took his time to get to the camp. Although I had done a fair amount of research on the area, it was as if I was in another world. For as far as I could see there was nothing but endless bush. Thorn trees looked like umbrellas with branches spanning wide.
“I can’t see any animals,” I said, and Banda smiled.
“Believe me,” he said, “they’re there.”
I squinted while we rode but still couldn’t see any.
“It’s so dry,” I said.
“Yes,” he answered, “the rain season will be here soon.”
Banda slowed down and eventually stopped next to the dirt road.
“Is there something wrong?” I asked.
“No,” he smiled. “I just want to show you something.”
I got out of the car and walked to where he stood. Looking at a clump of nearby trees, he didn’t say a word. A crack filled the air, and even though I had only met him a short while back, I moved to his side not knowing what to expect.
“What was that?” I asked. “I can’t see anything.”
“Sometimes you have to listen first before you are able to see.”
Another sound rang out and I watched with no idea of what I was looking for. A branch up ahead shook, and looking to Banda, I felt comforted when he smiled.
“There,” he said, pointing into the distance.
I focussed for a while before an awesome sight sent a wave of excited fear through my body. Starting off as a shape, I couldn’t believe what stood in front of me. Large ears flapped, and only after I concentrated did I see a pair of tiny eyes.
“Holy shit,” I exclaimed. “Is that a…?”
“An elephant,” he said.
The majestic brilliance of the beast took my breath away. It wrapped its trunk around a low hanging branch and ripped it from the tree, the sound of shattered bark echoing across the plain.
“That’s amazing,” I said, probably sounding like a child seeing an imaginary tooth fairy for the first time.
We watched for a long while before the elephant noticed us and moved away. Banda turned to me and smiled. “Africa is a beautiful place,” he said. I nodded in agreement.