MOST VIVID AFRICAN MEMORY
The time- Fall 1998
The Place- Lion's Den, Zimbabwe
The Memory- First Elephant Seen
Driving around in the open Toyota we were entering a slight dip in the road (trail?) that was going through a wash (dry creek bed) that was lined with leaf-bare Mopane trees. The PH (Thys DeFries) says "you hear that?". And yes we heard branches cracking and leaves being crushed under foot. He shuts off the engine and stops about 1/3 of the way into the shallow depression. We sit there and hear the noise getting closer. He says "it's and elephant coming this way". Now remember, our first trip to Africa. We're in Zimbabwe (some place we've never even thought of being before now, with a PH whom we've only known for 2 days, in an OPEN vehicle and this ain't the zoo at home! Can you picture the area with a dirt road ahead dipping down then up out of the arroyo with thick, bare Mopane trees lining both sides of the arroyo. Now try to remember the movie "Field of Dreams" where the players materialize out of the corn field surrounding the ball field. That's just what this huge bull elephant did about 50 feet in front of us. HE JUST MATERIALIZED INTO VIEW! He stopped in the middle of the road, 50 feet ahead and stopped. Does dry mouth, frozen in place come to mind. That's just how we felt. He turns his head slightly and looks right at us in the OPEN vehicle. Now this is a huge bull with about 40 to 45 lbs of ivory a side. He looked at us for maybe 5 seconds (but it felt like an hour at the time) and then he walks ahead into the bare Mopane trees again. Now get this, HE JUST DISAPPEARED INTO BARE TREES! Just like the ball players in "Field of Dreams! It is still the most amazing sight I (we) have ever seen in our lives. Truly a "once in a lifetime" experience. HE JUST DISAPPEARED AS IF HE WAS NEVER THERE! We will never forget it. Even after 3 more trips this one still ranks at the top of the list. THAT, IS AFRICA!