Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Goat In The Office (And Other Perks Of The Job)

(As I type, there is a goat poking her head into the office).

Two weeks ago, whilst in Murchison, fast asleep in a little banda (a round hut) I woke to Rich nudging me through my twin bed's mosquito net. It was pitch black.

Do you want to see a hippo? he whispered.

See a hippo? I could already hear it. A loud munching emanated from just the other side of the wall.

What time is it? I asked, still whispering, whilst fighting to get out of the mosquito net.

It was 4am, and when I eventually extricated myself from the netting, I stood by the window and looked out in the moonlight to see a hippo and her calf grazing just two yards in front of me.

I didn't want to breathe in case I disturbed her.

Would they charge a building? I found myself thinking, as I stared at her great grey bulk.

I don't know why I thought our whispering would disturb her. She wouldn't be able to hear me over the megaphone-like molar action going on. A hippo can chomp with the best of them...

The next night I saw three more, along with a tourist who was casually stalking them around the bandas to have a closer look. I was desperately whispering "Be Careful!" warnings at him through my banda window.

Sadly, because a flash may well have caused her to charge the banda, I have no photos of the hippo sightings. But here is a photo of what happens when you disturb a hippo, taken on the other side of the river from the Red Chilli Rest Camp, and published last year in the Daily Monitor. The guy in the picture managed to dive out the way and somehow escape, but you can see why I was trying to warn the over-enthusiastic tourist...

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