An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Roger of the bushveld

Roger's a very nice fellow. He's the manager of Tsendze Rustic Bush Camp in the Kruger National Park, where we camped last night. Basically, rustic means they don't cut the grass, and there are no electric powerpoints for caravans or campervans (the migration passes it by - another reason why were there).

It's a lovely camp, with the best shower in Africa (open air, though still in the immaculately clean ablution block). Roger, an African - Shangaan I think - makes a point of visiting all the campers and introducing himself. He also has an excellent memory ("you're the man with the laptop - you stayed in site 18 last year," he said, quite correctly).

Roger's lived in the bush all his life and knows all the birds by their calls, and by their African names. A regular visitor has given him a bird book and pair of binoculars, so he's brushing up on his identification of birds by their English names.

Just on dusk, Roger took Mrs B and I for a little walk to find a White Faced Owl. Roger picked his call and led us to him. With Roger's help we eventually saw his long, whispy, pointed ears silhouetted against the darkening sky. He rotated his head and antennae-like ears and locked eyes on us. It was one of those very nice moments, being out in the bush with someone who knows his stuff and is eager to share it.

We'd erected Tonka's home-made shadecloth roof tent and I was debating wheter or not to put the tarp on top, in case it rained. Stars were appearing above us, but far off there were flashes of lightening.

"Will it rain tonight?" I asked Roger of the bushveld.

"I don't know," he replied, looking out towards the horizon. "Let me check?"

Let me check?

What was he going to do, check whether the frogs were croaking in a particular way; whether the owl was on the west side of the tree or the east; whether the rhinocerous beetle was scampering back to its beetle house?

From his pocket he took a brand new 3G mobile phone, flipped it open, and connected to Vodacom Live. Scrolling past news, sport and entertainment gossip he selected 'weather', then 'Phalaborwa', the nearest town.

"Mostly sunny, partly cloudy tomorrow. 20 to 30 degrees. No rain. You'll be fine."

2 comments :

meggie said...

Nice punchline there. Wish I had seen the owl, they are my 'thing'.

ali g said...

Just got a new 3G mobile today too so we'll be ringing you from J'burg in just 3 weeks time when we land so's you can pop the champers 'n beer on the ice. Hope SA win the Rugby so's everyone will be happy chappies when we get there!