Ahhhhh. . . . . this is a gift for Father’s Day to AdventureMan, a gift that just keeps on giving.
The first night, he read it in bed, enthusiastically reading aloud ingredients for various recipes; they all sounded so delicious we were HUNGRY! Today we headed for the grocery store to find the crucial ingredients, which, because this book is very homey, are not hard to find. AdventureMan is making a pasta with sweet red peppers, and tonight, because we trust Patricia Wells, he is even going to add the Parmesan cheese which he sometimes hates. He has discovered that if it is really really good Parmesan cheese, it’s not so bad. (I don’t think he will ever like the stinky, salty Pecorino that I adore.)
I can hear him whistling in the kitchen as he prepares the onions and red peppers. My tummy is grumbling; I know this is going to be good!
We are Patricia Wells addicts. When we lived our many years in Germany, we had her books The Food Lovers Guide to France, and the Food Lovers Guide to Paris, and they were our major resources to go see things we might never otherwise have even known. She introduced us to Monsieur Fallot’s magnificent moutardes, and to La Duree’s hot chocolate and macaroons. We found kitchen shops and bakeries and charcuteries, and while she often led us into temptation, she never led us astray.
The recipes in this book are doable. She requires GOOD olive oil and fresh ingredients, we can do that. There is nothing very complicated or difficult – it’s home cooking, as only the French can do it. God bless you, Patricia Wells.
And now . . . to dinner
We’ve booked three nights at each camp, so we get at least two full days at each, and additional drives or hikes for the transfer days – there is never a dull moment.
The drums, the drums, and we are ready and out the door in no time. Today, as we are walking down to catch the boat, my toe catches on a root and I almost fall into the river. Even though the Luangwa is shallow, it would still be humiliating, and I would have to go back and change clothes, and then (gulp) there are those crocodiles . . . . The path is rough and I am a little unbalanced by my backpack, and by the grace of God, the guide, Keyala, steels himself, I hit him and he doesn’t fall in the water when I hit. He holds steady. Thanks be to God! (By evening, there was a new set of stairs, and no roots.)
Our day starts with leopard. We are once again at a green lagoon, watching ducks and cranes, when Keyala says “look, there is a leopard!” and about two hundred yards back, he is at a pond, drinking, then quietly, slowly, turns and walks back into the forest. What a great way to start!
Sorry, the leopard is in the distance and you learn to shoot fast. It doesn’t always make for the sharpest shot, but by the time you get all the settings right and the focus set, the leopard is gone and you have a photo of the lagoon where the leopard was, who wants to see that?
We have a lively morning, full of birds and more elephant and giraffe:
These giraffe are young males, and they are fighting with their necks, sort of comical to watch, but they can seriously hurt one another. I think these ones are more playing at fighting:
This hippo has gotten tired of the fighting for a spot in the river and has found a lovely isolated spot in the lagoon. You can tell he is a weathered old soul by the scars on his body.
We also get a chance to photograph that glorious fish eagle in a tree – this is how you usually see them; the one I shot in the previous post on Nkwali was actually catching a fish. You don’t get that shot often:
Many stops later, we are driving along and we smell sausages. Keyala says it must be a nearby lodge, but there is no lodge near by. . . We turn a corner and there is a crew, with a fire, and camp chairs all set up, and we realize we are about to experience one of the infamous Nkwali BBQ cook-outs, oh what fun. We are overlooking another great lagoon, full of hippo, Cape Buffalo, baboons, and all kinds of wildlife. Robert, the stellar camp cook, is there asking us how we like our eggs, and with our eggs are sausage, bacon, corn fritters, fried onion, baked beans and toast from loaves of bread made in camp, big thick slices.
And here is one of many of the crocodiles sunning on the river sand:
Just before we get back to camp, we see a Zambian local, fishing in the river. Look closely at the canoe – we used to see canoes like this in Alaska, too, dugouts. Imagine the hours it takes to hollow out a tree so that you can use it as a boat, and imagine that if you have very little, the man who has created for himself a boat can be a man with an enhanced opportunity to feed his family . . .
Once again, we arrive back at camp, and snooze a little until dinner. Bumping around in the Toyota trucks wears us out, and we are still jet lagging, some times we think we’ve beat it, and then when we least expect it, it beats us. I really need to wash my hair, it gets so dusty from the trails, but I really really need a nap and a nap almost always trumps washing hair.
As we head out on our last Nkwali game drive, there is an air of excitement. We find the noble-looking kudu, so shy, and he astonishes us by walking across the road so we can get a clear shot of those amazing curled antlers.
You’d think there would come a time when we might think “Oh, it’s just another elephant family,” but for us, that time never comes. We always watch them with fascination, thinking how very smart they are, how far they range, how they communicate, and how they mourn the deaths of their group. Elephant are huge, and they have their own agenda, they are not there for our entertainment but for their own survival, so we watch them with great respect.
Keyala takes us across the river and we head up to the highest hill for sundowners, half-searching for lion and leopard on the way. The highest hill has a 180 degree view of the land all the way to the escarpment, and the sun sets at just about 90 degrees – right in front of us. Behind us, about the same time, the full moon rises. It is awesome.
This is Keyala and Keyfus. Keyfus (Kay-fus), on the left, is the same as Cephus in Greek, meaning rock – Saint Peter’s name. Keyala is our guide, and recently marketed for Robin Pope Safaris in Seattle.
On this high hill I spot a tree, Sterculia quinqueloba, a tree I have never seen before, and Keyala tells us the name. It is such an unusual tree:
Moonrise in the east, magical:
Dinner conversation is fast and furious back at camp, and we excuse ourselves to make sure we are packed up and ready for departure the next day for Tena Tena. We say a sad farewell to Chris, and Tina, and Keyala, who have taken such good care of us and gotten our Zambia safari off to such a great and happy start.