Here’s the thing about plans. They generally do not work out.
My plan for not getting killed in the middle of the night by a wild animal was to not drink anything after 7pm. Sounds simple enough, but it certainly was not easy…..
But first let’s back it up a bit.
In the morning we pilled in the truck to head out of Victoria Falls. We were frickin’ pumped! This was it, our real African adventure was about to start. Camping overnight in our first game park! What was going to happen?
The group we joined up with (Kevin, Jac, Charles, Linnea, and Lindsay) had already spent a night in Chobe National Park, so they had some stories to share to give us an idea!
Basically, it sounded terrifying.
First, there was a herd of elephants hanging out in their campsite. No big deal right? They could just get spooked and trample your tent and kill you….. not to mention the red eyes they saw in their campsite when they were eating dinner. Red eyes are from cats – you do not want to see those!
Well – I was glad I asked…. Basically, I would not be sleeping at all that night in the park….Luckily, my anxiety about sleeping in the park faded away as soon as we entered. Screaming with excitement, we starting driving! What we were going to see first?!
Then the night fell and we headed back to our camp.
So while my plan was to not drink after 7pm, I did not factor in how that was going to work when you put wine in the mix around dinner. Bringing a 3L box of wine on the safari probably should have been my first indicator my plan was going to fail….
So there are some rules you are taught when camping in Africa. First off, you do not go to the bathroom alone. Second, before walking away from the campfire you shine your light to see if there are any eyes in the near distance. Thirdly, animals are likely to roam through the camp but you are safe as long as you stay in the tent.
Excellent! If I followed all those rules – I should live another day….
They even had us lock up anything with scent in the truck to be safe. This included my toothpaste and deodorant. Seriously? I just brushed my teeth! I smell clean and fresh – is this going to get me killed?
So I went to the bathroom twice before settling in for the night! I felt confident I got it all out. Then I got comfy and curled up against my amazing pillow and fell a sleep. Well for a bit.
Now there was no witness to what I experienced during the night – but let me tell you – there was something behind the tent.
I woke up to a branch snapping. My eyes shot open and my heart started beating in my chest. I was paralyzed with fear.
I laid as still as I possibly could. I did not want to make any noise for fear the animal would realize there was something in the tent it could eat. It would have been fine if I only had to control myself, except Pam was next to me, snoring and flailing around in her sleep. If the animal did not come and kill her, I was about to. As quietly as possible, I lifted my right arm and started jabbing Pam with my pointer finger as hard as I could. It was unsuccessful in waking her up – Pam may as well have started yelling “come and eat us, we’re sleeping in the tent!”
Was it too late to get a new tent buddy?
As I became more tuned in with what was happening around me, everything seemed more amplified. The sound of an animal’s foot steps right by my head and the faint sound of breathing outside of my tent. Even worse was the excruciating pain of now having to pee.
I tried to ignore it. I took my pants off to release the pressure from my shorts. I tried to think about dry thoughts – like the desert – nothing was working. I so badly wanted to know what time it was. I refused to let myself look at the clock for fear of knowing it was earlier in the night than I thought. I figured it was better to pretend I only have to lay here waiting to die for one more hour.
Maybe, then, I will make it through.
No – I could not take it. I sat up in the tent frustrated. What WERE the guides doing? Did they not say they were going to be up all night on watch? And where the hell did the fire go? Was there not supposed to be a fire to scare the animals away? I started staring out of the tent as to telepathically alert the guides of my life or death situation.
There was nothing else I could literally do. I just had to lay there waiting for my death by animal or for my bladder to literally to burst. Or would I loose a kidney? How many kidney’s do you need anyway?
I wonder if we have any bags….
Eventually, I heard laughter in the tent next me. Then, the fire started back up again and the sun slowly started to rise….. it was over.
I survived my first night in the game park.
In the morning, I told everyone about my night of terror.
The difficult thing about explaining what happened was no one else experienced it with me to back me up. I could sense the scepticism of others as I tried to explain what I heard. Even Pam, could not back me up because she was lights out.
I gave up. I did not need others to believe me to know the truth about what happened.
We loaded into the truck at sunrise to continue on our adventure in the park. Mainly, we were hoping to track down the pride of lions in the park…… I could not help but think I found them all last night ….. if people would only listen…..
Anyway, we saw tons more elephants, giraffes, and finally, the lions!
Lions are so bad ass. And they know it.
It was only our fourth night in Africa and it had been the crazy experience of my life.