An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Constipated tenor

Lion to the left of us, rhinos to the right...and a bloody great bull elephant crossing the road behind us.
 
That was this morning's game drive, and the addiction is well fed today.  The rain stopped just before dawn and we dragged ourselves out of the tent and into Tonka.  He whined for a little while (starter motor could be original, I fear, and therefore 22 years old) and coughed and farted himself to life, directing a jet of blue diesel smoke through the gauze window of the next door neighbours' tent (that will teach them to pitch so close to us).
 
On the Faayi loop near Pretoriuskop Camp, not far from the Voortrekker Road, we stopped and turned off the engine to watch a pair of rhinos.  This was a good start to the day, we thought, but then we heard the low, rumbling, groaning call.
 
He came sauntering up the road, looking tired, wet and hungry.  His big black mane was springing to life, though, as the sun lightened the clouds to the colour of lead.  He stopped for a scratch and a wee, barely spared us a glance and sat down in the grass, about 15 metres from us.
 
As the rhinos graded the bush beside us an elephant crossed the roach behind us.  Three of the big five within 50 metres of the truck all at once.  Not too bad.  Also, we were the only car on the scene, for about an hour, putting paid to those whingers who complain that Kruger is too busy.
 
We had a breakfast of coffee and rusks amidst the animals.  South Africa is an odd country.  Grown ups eat rusks (baby food in Australia) and teething children are given a stick of biltong (dried raw beef) to teeth on.  Go figure.  Anyway, as we crunched away the lion continuted calling to his friends and relations.
 
Now, lions do not sound like the MGM lion at the movies.  They do not roar.  As mentioned above, it's more of a groan.
 
Picture, if you will, a very big man - let us say around the 250 kilogram mark - with a deep voice.  I'm thinking Luciano Pavarotti here (no offence to my future Italian readers).  Now imagine him severely constipated and trying - no straining - for relief.  Place a microphone and a stack of speakers in front of him in the smallest room in the house (we need the echo effect here, as well, you see) and turn the volume and bass up to max.  That's what it sounds like.
 
I was trying to think of a way to describe a lion's call as we watched him from the luxury of Tonka's cockpit.  Mrs B said; "It sounds like he's trying to do a pooh."  Hence the origins of the analogy.
 

1 comment :

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

You made me laugh about the rusks. That South African/Indian shop you found in bexley stocks them, as well as rooi tea. And a passable import of biltong - but it's not as good as the game stuff.

You're going to have to go back through these posts when you get home and insert pics. Although my imagination/memory is doing a reasonable job of keeping up...