Fitting for a Sunday that’s a break is my start of the day: sleeping in until after noon. Yeah, the last 4-odd hours are in a van as we’re on our way to Mole National Park, but that’s not too much of a problem for my narcoleptic self.
Oh yeah, about the bet: nobody wins. Abraham arrived at 6:30, an hour before we expected him at the earliest, and walks through the hotel’s halls screaming “I told you I’d make it!” as our wakeup call. Not exactly pleasant, but better than if he’d been his usual hour late.
Or maybe not. We end up waiting for several hours at Mole for the next safari to leave. Fortunately, the hotel / reception area has a platform overlooking a massive valley with 2 watering holes that eventually reveals several elephants. Even from our mile-plus away, these are clearly massive animals. I decide it would be worth another concussion to experience one of these beasts that never forget charging at you.
First up-close animal sightings are several warthogs grazing near the hotel. They look rather mild-mannered, somewhere near the middle between Poombah from “The Lion King” and the mounted warthog head perpetually snarling and frightening children from the basement of the cabin my family visits. I decide that I could jump over one if it charges me, but they’re too close to Poombah and walk away as I approach. Sad is the runt, who not only has no tusks but is also missing a leg. He has to limp around as his buddies romp, but he’s still intimidating enough that I bet not much short of a lion messes with him.
After a few hours’ wait made more than enjoyable by our magnificent view we begin the safari, by which I mean walking tour into aforementioned valley. Our guide is a short, quiet fellow who makes up for the soft speaking by carrying a big gun. In Birkenstocks and shorts, I worry at his rubber boots and long pants, but he’s leading the way to scare away or be the first bit by any snakes. We see antelope and other deer-like animals right away and frequently, sometimes in groups approaching 20. They run before we near, but we’re more than close enough to make out details. The primates are similarly shy but visible, including babbons with their red butts and all. Least pleasant species prize goes to the swarm of black ants that decided to start biting my legs after I stood on the fallen tree that’s their house. Not a nice feeling, but more than offset by the coolness of my first safari.
Our stop on the (long) way back to the hotel is at the Mystery Rock, a less-than-impressive stone sitting on a pedestal of similarly boring rock. Our driver insists that this rock was twice moved to make way for a road’s construction but that it somehow returned to its current perch. A story less impressive than the sheer quantity of sleep I get while riding over a more than bumpy road...