Written by Chris Trumble.

Roosters head-off my phone alarm, another mango dawn laced with chamoy… 66 Fahrenheit, 99 humidity, sunrise at 6:47… hustle bustle… 15 minutes to pack while wasting the cold and eagerly awaiting the hot… Hotel Bomha has ready made American coffee but I prefer the Nescafé topped with steamed milk… no need to sample this morning, going straight for the matooke with G.nut sauce, some fruit and a glass of papaya and carrot juice, watered down but tasty enough… a couple rounds of shoulder tap n tease, think it was Jason this time… group photo with the concrete gorillas… load ‘em up, my preferred seat is free, drop Jamie and Scott off at sister Rosemary’s while the remainder visit St. Joseph’s Workshop… Ladies in charge for a change, men riding the machines, tape measure and t-shirts for everyone… sweet operation, wood carefully ordered for seasoning and protected from the rain…

All in and all out, en route once again… or not… time to stop at the gas station to collect one of the red REI bags used to deliver KN95s to Lacor Hospital, dropped off earlier by Dr. Syvester like a underbelly drug deal… hey look at that genny, just what Moyo General needs, wonder if the boda-boda guy with the AK, lost in his phone, would mind if we borrowed it…
Really en route this time… familiar road side attractions: stacks of fired bricks, termite mounds, masonry vendor stalls most unfinished some occupied, clan compounds with thatch roofed huts, women working hard with loads firmly balanced on their heads, young men posturing on their boda-bodas, nice shades, first time seeing someone pissing roadside, solar panels basking in the sun as the cords slither off to a collection of phones somewhere inside, more tractors than usual… maybe the worst paved road in the world, worse than Tucson’s for sure… lots of schools road side… 3 soccer balls and 2 pumps remain… pull over, Aidan launches the ball, the children in their color coded uniforms swarm with enthusiasm… everyone feels joy here…

Today is the fulcrum… social outreach and cultural immersion wormholes into our self interests and the creatures we hope to capture with our phones… a monkey perched atop a termite mound signals that we are close and soon gives way to elephants doing what elephants do off in the distance, on the left, on the right, seemingly everywhere… we stop for permits… ‘ordinary’ toilets… Kelly uses telepathy to keep the baboons off the fresh bitumen while Aiden apes for their attention…
The drive to the lodge previews the water buffalo, giraffes, antelope, baboons, elephants, warthogs, monkeys and more… I’m no longer in a rush to arrive… we have arrived… sausage tree… counter weighted barricade on a leash again… the lodge is dignified, like a healthy elder forged by its experiences but with a lot of life left to live… roller boards standing in a huddle, passports to Jamie, wondering what will be wrong with my room… “big bed or AC” she asks… back by 4 for the game drive… move in, check out the curio shop, dip in the pool, Niles for 5000, cocktails at the swim-up bar, thanks Scott… red headed lizard running about doing its push-ups… structural analysis of the pool bar roof, galvanized steel deck in between, Jamie likes the ceiling but not as much as her Pina Colada.. change clothes and head for the lobby… our team trickles in… where is Apollo? where is Kelly? Apollo looking good in shorts… Kelly saunters down stairs… all good to go… load ‘em up… Some of us jockey for the second car… masked Parra lady says it’s best for its open sides…

She comes on a HONDA…

The Wagners, Nolettes and Apollo take the lead… Bruce, George, Waverly, Jason, Kelly and I follow in our “better” ride… Moses, Well-borne and his AK at the helm… 5 miles down the main road the gremlins have their way and our rig takes a dump… stranded for 15 minutes… 30 minutes… TIA… we are now a roadside attraction, lots of visitors and one bottle of transmission fluid… flirting with a water buffalo… so much love for George… a little land art… an hour… an hour and a quarter… looking grim… TIA… the clouds part and a new ride drops from the sky… bye Moses… off we go…
Need to make up for lost time… antelope, antelope, antelope and more antelope… giraffes, antelope… need something special… Well-borne pitches the cats… winding down toward the Nile… night is descending… there they are… big boy stands up and starts to walk… someone in a baseball cap screams in their best little girl voice “oh *$#! he’s coming”… great experience… the nighttime cloud cover lifts and the stars appear… everyone feels fulfilled… a heart pounding cat experience… back to the lodge…

Tables on the balcony… all guests convened… buffet time… salad, rice, paneer, vegetables, gristle and dessert… we enjoy each other… stories told… 5:45 coffee and scones tomorrow morning… I like these people… goodnight…