Safari means a journey; and, I have discovered, it can encompass journeys of many different sorts: Physical, emotional, philosophical, etc. But this post concerns itself with the first of these, the actual physical aspect of my safari. Specifically, it concerns itself with our daily game drives and our very human condition.
Ahhhh, “game drive.” To the uninitiated, the term conjures up visions of sweeping across the plain (or the serengeti, but definitely NOT both) in some sturdy, open vehicle. Me looking appropriately, if only vaguely, Meryl Streepish; Michael looking appropriately, if only vaguely, Robert Redfordish (before overexposure to sun ravaged his face). There are readily accessible large caliber rifles with which to protect ourselves from marauding lions or rogue elephants. Yeah, well, erase those visions of sugar plums from your heads right now. A girl can’t even get a good shampoo on safari unless she does it herself.
A real game drive is actually even better, if more problematic, than the cinematic version. Usually, there are two game drives each day: One in the morning, lasting anywhere from five to six hours and one in the afternoon, which is usually much shorter as no one wants to cut too deeply into cocktail time (remember, there are standards to be maintained). Occasionally, the two drives are combined into one l o n g drive with a lunch box break sometime in the temporal vicinity of midday.
Forget visions of “sweeping” anywhere. You can keep the sturdy, open vehicle image. Ours were thoughtfully modified, beautiful, deep green Land Rovers (LR) but they most decidedly did not sweep. Instead (and all redundancies are intentional), they lunge, they lurch, they groan, they grind, they buck, they bruise, they slew, they slide, they bounce you up, they slam you down, they hurl you to the left, they hurl you to the right (stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight . . . for balance). In other words, even with drivers as skillful and considerate as ours, a game drive can be a bit like taking a ride in a clothes dryer. It’s wonderful fun but your body does have to absorb a lot of jolts.
So, what does this have to do with the title of this post? Well, it’s a long time from those cups of coffee at breakfast to the lunch break. And, many bottles of water get consumed during that time. And, all of that agitation can be challenging for one’s urinary system. Forget the big guns, what one really needs during a game drive is a bit of privacy. But, there are no porta potties on the Serengeti. Obviously some fiction of a zone of privacy must be created and it is easily done. Boys to the front of the LR, girls to the rear or some such arrangement. This is so self-evident that you may well wonder why I am bothering to post about it.
The reason for this post is a tiny but important, and not necessarily at all self-evident, refinement to the arrangement when you are traveling during the rains as we were. Several mornings our shoes were so encrusted with sticky mud by the time we walked to our LR that we could not wear them into the LR. Instead, we hoisted our fannies up onto a seat, took the shoes off, and gave them to the driver who stowed them in the rear of the LR. Shoeless, a short person could stand on the seats with a clear conscience. The floor of the LR remained almost pristine. An almost perfect solution to a mucky problem. But, what to do when it was time to “check the tires,” which turns out to be a universal euphemism for taking a wee?
Having the driver get out and retrieve shoes seemed too much to ask and, usually, by the time our LR had bounced our bladders to this point of need, the ground had dried up enough that one could gingerly tip toe, shoeless, from one relatively dry tuft of short grass to another to reach that all important zone of privacy. However, all of this careful tip toeing would be for naught if the previous occupant of the zone had checked the tire closest to the exit door thereby leaving the next occupant with an unfordable river or lake. Careful staging was required and usually achieved.
Safari means a journey; in this case, a journey into cooperative living required by our very physical conditions.
*I just (as in yesterday) read that “serengeti” is a Maasai word meaning “endless plain” or something similar. If that be true, pairing “Serengeti” with “Plain,” as I have done in previous posts, is a redundancy. Ever since my 7th grade English teacher wrote “redundant” (in bright red ink) next to “gilt with gold” on one of my compositions, I have tried to avoid redundancies . . . at least unintentional redundancies. So, I apologize to the grammar police for my faux pas. I am verdant green with shame.