I am now in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, waiting for our flight to Johannesburg. Ah, Johannesburg and the British Airways Commodore Lounge! It will be smooth sailing after that. Yesterday morning our flight from Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania left at 11a, so we got up early and did a game drive on the way to the airport. It’s hard to believe, but on the way to the airport, we witnessed a lion hunt and kill. A big, beautiful lioness was standing like a statue on a dead tree that had fallen over. We watched for a while, and then she headed across the field and got up on another tree.
She was close to the road at that point, where 3 vehicles waited, watching her. Leaping down, she proceeded to come our way, right to the car and past us to the other side of the road where she leapt into a tree and went out on a branch for a while, then down again and across the road, passing in front of us again. She did not give even one glance at us or the vehicles. Into the field of waving golden grass, she hunkered down, canvasing the Savannah. Her first vantage point and began to stalk 3 wildebeest who were heading back to the herd. She was downwind of them, so they caught her scent and ran. She went immediately into another stalk, 2 wildebeest I had not seen or noticed were trotting across the field. She let them go by her, spooked them into a run, and the next thing I knew she had a wildebeest down. The other one kept running, then turned to look for his friend. I felt so sorry for that wildebeest…I know I am not supposed to, that it is nature, but I really do believe that animals know each other and feel emotion. The lone wildebeest stood for quite a while, waiting. Sad.
The hunt was remarkable. Of course we’ve seen it on tv a million times, and probably saw it better on the big screen, but watching her, so fluid, so powerful, so sure…graceful in every movement. There was not a sound on the savannah when she took down her prey. Nothing. I guess I expected grunts or screams or something, but the silence was overwhelming. An amazing morning. A lion hunt and kill! Amazing! Randy and I were thrilled!
I saw another sad sight today on the road from Arusha to the Kilimanjaro airport….some IDIOT in front of us had tied up 3 goats in the back of a pick up truck. They were trussed to one another in a manner that looked like torture. I watched in horror and anger and sadness as one of the goats was strangled by the rope. The two remaining goats were still tied to the dead animal, and to each other. I don’t care if he was taking them to slaughter, they should not have to endure torture on the way. The lack of basic humanity (isn’t it basic not to torture another creature?) astounds me, and saddens me beyond words. Life seems to be held cheaply, and maybe I have just been slow to realize it.
Our guide told us about a law in Tanzania: if you are driving and run over a person, killing them, you automatically do at least 3 years in prison. Automatically, regardless. The person must leave the scene and run to the police in order to avoid another murder: their own! Apparently the people around the accident will kill the driver. A little different from the American law: do not leave the scene of an accident. Also, Bangi (marijuana) is illegal here, big fine (which no one could afford to pay) and prison time.
Off to the airport, and off to Nairobi to spend the night. Drinks and a pizza with Randy at the Intercontinental, and now I sit and relate my adventures to you. Off to Johannesburg in an hour, then to London, then Dallas. Now that I am on the way, I am ready to be home. I will summarize my trip soon, the good and the bad, and travel recommendations and bewares!