Friday, July 9, 2010

Harbingers of Death and Destruction But it was OK in the End

Last week GK and I set out for Tanzania in order to sort out the recalcitrant vehicle I left behind before I bought my very adult new one. 

Starting off through the back route we went via ... actually I cant tell you via where, cos its a Deadly Secret. Its location has even been wiped off the GPS although Google Maps wont play. In this remote spot they are reintroducing animals with one (well, sort of one) very valuable and expensive horn. No, wrong. Not a unicorn. But a horn as expensive as rocking horse shit would be if there was a market for that. Enough to pay off the debt of a small third world country with one anyway. No, sorry not a minotaur either – they've got two horns, so wrong again. 

Anyway its pretty far from anywhere and really difficult to get to, but that's the way we went because we think its fun, possibly indicating a warped sense of amusement but there ya go. We bush-camped half way like snaggle-toothed hillbillies in the cathedral mopane forest, far from habitation, mozzie net strapped onto the back of the vehicle. GK was recovering from some awful thing whereby all his bodily fluids were leaking out of his face into about 15 bog rolls, leaving charming mountains of scrunched pink paper pushed under my seat. 

Now, being in a job that uses substances like turpentine quite a lot I am pretty careful about containers. I am aware of kids hanging around cold-drink bottles filled with paraffin or oven cleaner etc., so I had put the  paraffin for the hurricane-lamp into a plastic bottle with large scull and cross bones emblazoned all over both sides and the lid with thick black pen. 

However it was dark when he had his throat wide open for the handful of pills prescribed to stop the snot, took a huge gulp from the water bottle – not - and SWALLOWED twice quickly. Yuk. Spit gurgle, panic (me). 

I looked up into the tree and there were two two vultures staring down at us. Nice. What is it about these birds when they hang around? We know they act as pooh disposal units around villages but we were far from any. Illogical childhood perceptions about vultures came flowing into my adrenaline-frazzled head; “oh my God they KNOW something, they're waiting. He's poisoned and going to die, fuck what's that stuff coming out of his face? Holy shit its exploding brains, oh no its only snot...”

Really this picture does not show these sinister creatures very clearly. They may look like two little benign dots from my camera but close up they have a beady eye. I know that because I kept having to draw them once.

Anyway it was fine in the end. Well for me anyway, because I wasnt burping dragon breath laced with a petroleum byproduct all day and I didn't have the liquid paraffin effect to stop every five minutes in order to use up the rest of the thirty bog rolls. Those two bastards were still in the tree looking at us when we woke up, but the morning was bright and the rest of the day we drove through awesome amounts of forest. 

and crossed on the pontoon before meeting our friends for sleepovers who run the Deadly Secret Jurassic Park place . 

Before leaving there we flew in a four seater tracking the pricey unicorns that had microchips embedded in their scales while pterosaurs and teredactyles glided below. Not really – that was to put you off the track in case you are a poacher armed with darts, a chain saw and no antidote disguised as a tourist which is apparently the current form. Or in case you consider zipping in by helicopter, lopping off the said horn and floating off into the blue unknown as they did in a South African zoo recently. 

Goodness there are some interesting animals in the world and that's just two of them. (One hominid, one horned).

 Pity the beady-eyed velociraptor look-alikes don't have a solid gold diamond-encrusted beak or something. 

I'm kidding again, I love vultures, really I do.

All pics are mine except the scull and crossbones from the internet


  1. Good God what an adventure. First the title you wrote was fantastic. I laughed out loud, which is why i didn't get too scared when GK drank from the DANGER bottle. I knew everything would be okay. Thank God.

    Funny thought, vulture poaching instead of rhinos. HATE poachers, every one of them.
    Your paintings are very beautiful Pam, i love them.

    Is there going to be a part #2?

  2. Thank you so much Lori - and thanks for your kind words re the paintings. I hope there will be a part 2 - a nice and calm one!

  3. There are just no adventure stories like yours, Pam. None. But I know you are a survivor, even in the face of two ghastly vultures, and I`m glad GK has proved to be one, too.
    Yes, give us a happy part 2!

  4. omg poor GK!! eugh! we tried cooking prawns in citronella lamp oil by mistake in the dark once in moz - not recommended at all but probably better than drinking the stuff .. nice camp spot with palm tree - vultures see far too much for their own good. great story and pictures - love the title too :-) xxxx

  5. and you never said that you got malaria when you got here and maybe GK has it too...!? sigh. although the paraffin might have cured his....? great post as always pamu! and DIVINE having you next door again. yessssss! xxx j

  6. Thanks Geli - I follow you and tried to get you on my sidebar but so far failed - is there a blogger fairy blocking us out there? xx

    Vallie -yuk man that is just the worst - what a complete waste of prawns..sis man xx

    Janelle - GK seems fine and thanks - yes its great being next door again.xx

  7. What a scary adventure and mysterious too. When I first came to Georgia our next door neighbor drank some car coolant thinking it was lemonade. He died. We thought it was an accident but several years later, after we had moved, I saw the wife’s face in the paper. It appears it was her second husband who had passed from the same accident She kept placing coolant in the lemonade. I don’t know what happened to her – I guess she is in jail. Well this is a propos of nothing – nothing to do with your adventure.

  8. Haha, Vagabonde, good story! And Pam, you know what? The police in Hannover, Germany, is training two vultures to help them find dead bodies!! They are exercising in the large Bird Park near Hannover. I wonder how?
    Isn`t life writing the best stories?

  9. hello pam - geli suggested i visit your site, and i'm glad i did - what an amazing car trip......makes the one i just took look like a mere disneyland ride by comparison ;-)

    i love traveling vicariously thru africa and your blog is fantastic.....will sign up to follow and return for more adventures~


  10. Holy mother of god, what a post. Yikes. The land that time forgot and how to swallow petroleum and live to tell the story.

    What a life you live. Wow.

  11. hahahahaha - poor GK (sorry) but I do find it funny. The tissue waste would have made the best firelighters around . . . . .

    Good news about the re-introductions (here's holding thumbs!)

    love the post

  12. PS Vultures are fascinating in a macabre way - always good to see them even if the general connotations are not so good