Five Years Ago


 

If you need a good reason to keep a diary, see the difference between who has it and who does not… Can you tell what happened to you five years ago? Many times I can. Five years ago I was here:

By mid February we went to the Kruger Park, a natural reserve delimitating a good stretch of the South Africa/Mozambique border. The only regret that I have was the delay at the South African side (and our breakfast at the Stop Café, on the route to the Crocodile Gate). Appetite apart, what is the problem with the South African border? Besides keeping people on endless lines for passport control, we witnessed kilometers of trucks waiting to enter into Mozambican territory. As most of them looked to be transitory goods, I can only conclude that South Africa is not supportive of the Mozambican economy – a real shame. I suppose I don’t have to list all the reasons against such policy.

Thanks to bureaucracy, we missed the lions and leopards signaled early morning near the entrance gate. Forget the large breakfast. People usually don’t eat well when their initial expectations are spoiled by doubtful agendas.

Well, it felt strange once inside the Kruger. The day was hot but not that hot to justify the heavenly quietness of the park. I only understood that peacefulness later on when I witnessed the massive number of elephants. Usually, if we are lucky, in a one-day visit, we spot one or two groups of less than 10 elephants. This time they were everywhere and in large groups, always with one of them working as a sentinel. Zebras, gazelles and wildebeests must have felt somehow pacified and protected. If such a giant is so peaceful, then the universe has to be peaceful too…

They walked near and between the cars with their quiet and solemn manner. One of them came from the bush and placed its potent grey body right in front of our car, precisely the moment my camera went on strike. Instead of turning to the right, where our car had stopped, the elephant turned left and followed the road towards a small white car whose occupants must have felt some panic, since they kept reversing as the elephant progressed straight towards them. This walk lasted almost half an hour. The elephant only left the very hot tarmac after defecating, forcing me to conclude that: 1) The elephant suffered from constipation. 2) The elephants use the roads we cross as a toilet. (And if you think this was enough for one day, precisely the same happened a couple of hours later when my camera behaved and allowed me to capture the moment the elephant entered the road and, instead of crossing it, decided to turn left and face another white car, forcing a wise second speedy retreat. Maybe I should add a third conclusion here: 3) White cars bother large grey elephants.)

Besides the elephants, I spotted rhinos and buffalos. To meet the Big Five I would have to cross a different South African border. I also watched small birds, large hippos, young and old visitors, men and women, a rainbow… Because of my “elephant day”, this is my “elephant month” too.

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