Not your average travel blog
After the rains, imagine puddles, wet wood, glistening greenery and frolicking beasts – but only for a short while. The sun reasserts it’s magnificence as fast as I can polish off a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. The Kalahari has a few surprises for us and it’s absolute treat. A spectacle that only happens once every few years: the desert blooms, and we’ve landed at that precise moment.
The wilderness is never without its casualties, but almost overnight and through the storm; the Kalahari has gone from sandy desolation where decaying, dry skin and bone carcasses are strewn around the empty waterholes in a death-filled stench, to a fleeting but vibrant and colourful rostrum of dynamic and civilised cornucopia.
The flowers have opened from dormant twigs, oppressed succulents and underground bulbs, to delicate lacy numbers with vivacious, spirited slaps of colour. Everywhere you look, emancipated colour now winks back like some flirtatious but gracious peeress, disembarking and throwing away the restraints of sea-life after not stepping on land for the past five years. Oh, she’s winking, and flowers are back in the harbour. Puddles are everywhere as the skies elevated themselves of their liquid stores. Everything was drenched and it was a pleasure.
Personally, my favourite treat; there is a handsome bounty of various tortoise seemingly skipping through the dew-covered growth. Whether it is the rain that has awoken them or whether it’s just a time of play, I’m surprised and gleeful to see so many testudines around the damp-but-quickly-drying sands.
I was once asked in an job interview what animal I would be if I had the power to morph. I said I’d be a Testudine. Yes, I had to explain that it was the group name for any of the various aquatic or terrestrial egg-laying reptiles of the order of Chelonia. Rather like an ancient race which everyone has forgotten about. They’re one of my favourite groups of animals, especially the weird and wonderful looking snapping turtles; they tend to have a horny jaw without teeth and an armour-like shell which they can draw their heads and limbs into. I think I lost my interviewer at this point… However, they are dry-skinned, cold-blooded and are found in a variety of habitats, normally around the warmer areas of the world (the turtles, not the interviewers). There are loads of them in the tropics where they can warm them selves, swim to their hearts content, find abundant food, blazingly mate rampantly and essentially just live a wonderful life. Today it’s not quite the same race. Tortoise and not turtles are loving the sands and the protective scrub, and it’s a pleasure just watching them grumble around. Slowly does as we drive around, being careful not to run over the little jaywalkers.
I went on to explain that they were marvels of the animal kingdom; never rushed, have overcome great challenges, always have their home on their back, were surprisingly quick when they needed to be and clearly knew how to go about their day without stressing themselves or other people out. I did’t get the job.
The rains seemed to have cheered everyone up. Even Penelope enjoyed a paddle.
As a side note, the video was edited with music. We don’t distract ourselves with tunes while in big game, antelope and cat territories.
Some people have naturalist neighbours. They might not know it, but they do…
Many just can’t help sunning their naked-selves when the weather warms up, or drinking ice-cold cocktails, nude on their balconies in the middle of a high-rise city, or organising naturalist holidays with hobbyist sports events….and why not? However, assuming they don’t mind as they leave themselves open to it, there is also always some pervy neighbour who can’t help but sit back, pop on the sunglasses and pretend to covertly read a book while constantly oggling into the birthday-suited’s quiet time. Maybe it’s just been my odd personal experience of living in cities where people seem to think it’s fine to wander around getting bronzed head to toe in very assumed-private-but-not spaces. They appear fairly regularly for me, while I covertly write my blogs.
In my experiences, naturalists often know they’re being spotted. It almost upsets them when I haven’t made a bigger deal out of it. Unsurprisingly, some get bashful and shy, before trying to reluctantly disappear. Except they only change position and maybe find another bush to sit under or gin and tonic-filled ball glass to “hide” behind.
Where am I going with this? We’re in the Kalahari!
Flaunting all their grace, beauty and athleticism, they just can’t help themselves. When we’re not looking; I’m sure they must organise some nude-hobbyist, hipster games that no other chubby cat would feel comfortable joining in with, and trying to keep up would just be an embarrassment. They get their fuzzy spots out and they just don’t care. Waving them about the plains like it’s some overt pride parade. There might be sand, but this isn’t beach, Hugo! Hugo is the worst. He’s the “Right Said Fred” of them all, because he’s just too sexy for the rest of the bush and is genuinely taking the irony of being the most “cat-walk” cat of all a bit too seriously. Hugo clearly loves catching anyone’s eye by strutting around, tanned and topless as is if it’s Miami. Although again, as soon as any lady nearby even trots in his direction, he gets nervous, is completely socially awkward, pretends he didn’t realise he was being watched and dodges back inside to the wife, who frankly, was too busy to realise Hugo was being such a lush because she herself was flaunting her nakedness on the other side of the house to the garden boy.
Leggy and streamline, aloof and looking good in even a mankini because they live in a world too beautiful for everyone else; they’re the only creatures that manage to pull off grace and beauty and socially-removed style, not only when they have half a gazelle dripping from their gums, but while they have a few pints of blood blasted around their model-esque, George-from-Wham beard too. Cheetah are the public strippers of the open plains and even though they appear to mind, we can’t stop staring at them.