Panic

I woke up that Sunday morning, opened my eyes and was trapped. All I could see around me was white netting. What had happened? I asked myself. Then it all came flooding back to me. I was at my grandparents’ house in Nairobi, Kenya. The white netting was a mosquito net! I felt safe again. I remembered that we were going to Masai Mara that day. I jumped out of bed, and ran to the bathroom. Apart from seeing my grandparents, Ba and Bapuji, going to Masai Mara was my favourite part of visiting Kenya.

Masai Mara is the most famous safari park in Kenya. There are so many different resorts there for different things. You can go to relax in a hotel or you can experience the wonderful outdoors by staying in very modern tents. A few years ago we did just that and one night all the children who were staying in the different tents arranged to meet up at midnight. When midnight came we grabbed the torches and all met at the main base. Twenty minutes later we could hear the frantic cries of all our mothers who were looking for us. Nevertheless, we drowned out the cries with our hysterical laughter.

However, this time it was going to be different. We all piled into our Mercedes. My dad had driven along this route so many times he decided that he was going to enjoy the ride and let our driver drive. The sun was scorching hot and all eight of us were squashed into the small five seater! I was so excited. The first time I visited Masai Mara I was only three or four years old, the second time I was a bit older but we came with friends and therefore did not pay much attention to the scenic surroundings. Now it was just my family ad I was old enough to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment.

We arrived at Simba Lodge about six hours after leaving Nairobi. The lodge was deserted. Apparently it had opened recently and therefore there weren’t any other people staying there except us. With that, Ba and Bapuji said their goodbyes and returned to Nairobi.

We settled into our rooms they were gorgeous! I sat on my bed listening to my personal stereo. I was totally in another world when my dad, who had apparently been calling me for about five minutes, started shaking me.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Come on we’re going on safari!” he replied with a little twinkle in his eye I could see that even though we had done this so many times he was excited too. Safari is one of those things that no matter how many times you do it, it is always different.

So we set out. We had a safari van with an open top. My brother and I were standing on the seats looking out off the top while the wind hit our sunburnt faces. The feeling was amazing. We were cruising through the safari park at top speed. The sights are one of a kind. The different colours of the landscape, the green on the trees against the yellow of the grass, the brown spotted deer running crazily around at the sound of the vehicle and the black wilder beast relaxing in the sun with not a care in the world. This was the life!

Whenever one goes on safari even though one is looking forward to seeing all the animals the one everyone look forward to seeing is the rhino. It is the most rare animal one sees on safari. We are considered lucky to have seen one every time we have been on safari. And this is where our journey begins.

The sun was so hot and we had to put the roof on halfway so that we wouldn’t get sunstroke. We had the video camera and we all taking it in turns to take the video. We went to see the hippos and there nearby was the border stone of Kenya and Tanzania. We took many photos there! We saw lions lying idly in the shade of the trees whilst the cubs played ‘catch’ in the sun. We saw hippopotami swimming in the mucky water, which they called home. The tall giraffes which one could see miles away, were peering over the trees like look out towers. The lazy leopards slept for hours on the branches of the tall trees.

Then out of the blue, disrupting the silence of the game park, we heard a cry. It was a cry of terror, a cry of fear. Suddenly we saw a herd of deer running for their lives. There had been no gunshots or sign of humans, why were they all so scared? I asked myself. Then it all became clear. Almost totally camouflaged amongst the golden grass I saw a cheetah.

‘Look!’ I shouted.

‘Where?’ asked my sister.

‘There in the grass, it’s a cheetah!’ I replied amazed.

Then came one of the most terrifying scenes of my life. A deer was caught: the tired one. It was ripped apart by the hungry cheetah. The rest of the deer kept on running until they were clearly out of the cheetah’s site. However, the cheetah never left the dead deer unattended for fear that some lions of other carnivores may come and steal his prey. I had seen the process of evolution by natural selection for real.

We drove on. We found a herd of elephants washing themselves in the river. Just as in ‘The Jungle Book’ they looked as they were singing along and enjoying themselves! We watched them for a while. They paid no attention to us and went about their business. Once we became bored, we moved on.

We were driving around the open plains when we say a stray elephant. It had strayed from the herd and our driver/tour guide found this very strange, so we decided to follow it. The driver was explaining to us why he found this strange and as he was my father decided to record it on the video camera. He wanted to see out of the roof so as we were driving at a slow speed he got out of the front seat and came to the back but as he did he slammed the door shut. The enraged elephant turned around and charged. I had never seen an elephant run so fast in my life. My dad still recorded grabbed onto the side of the van as the driver reversed about a hundred feet. During this my brother and I, scared and excited were commentating on the movements of my dad and the elephant. Having sprinted about a fifty feet the elephant grew tired, turned around and carried on in the opposite direction.

After this experience we decided it was time for some food. The hotel had very kindly packed us some sandwiches etc for lunch so we sat in the van to eat. As soon as we took out the food, as though they knew we were going to, monkeys appeared from everywhere! My mum quickly packed away all the food but the monkeys stayed. They were on the car, in the car all over the place. One baby monkey came and sat on my lap. At first I was scared, then I don’t know what came over me but I began to enjoy it! They soon became fed up and left, and then we were left to enjoy our food.

We were still on the search of a rhino. After eating we set out again. We saw lots of safari cars around one area and we thought they had seen a rhino or there was a rhino there so we speeded over only to find that they were amazed by chimpanzees. Having seen enough of monkeys we decided to see if we could find a rhino. As we turned around our driver saw something in the grass move so he drove over to it but as it turned out it was a lion. He told me to get out of the car and just stand next to the door. I was petrified and nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen. While I stood there the lion stood up and came and brushed past my leg.

The driver then told me to get back into the car. By the time I managed to catch my breath back I was able to say that that was one of the most exciting experiences of my life! Our driver who was really nice was asking me loads of questions, was I scared, frightened, nervous, excited, apprehensive, worried? At that time I didn’t even know!

We carried on driving but suddenly we weren’t moving anymore. I asked the driver what was happening, he didn’t reply but kept pressing the accelerator. I looked out from the roof and saw that we were stuck in a marshy area. By this time it was about five ‘o’ clock in the evening. It was going to get dark soon; we had to get out of there.

At this point, the driver called for assistance. There were a few cars still looking at the chimpanzees, from those cars only one came over to help. The car was full of German tourists. At that instance, I wished that I had taken German instead of Spanish. It was getting darker. The car still wouldn’t move. The other driver and a few of the Germans help move the car but it wouldn’t move. They said they would need a four-wheel drive to move it.

Our driver told my mum to go with the Germans back to their hotel and to take my brother, sister and me with her. My dad was to stay with our driver and the car. My mum was scared but concealed it very well. She didn’t want to leave my dad but knew it was for the best. We wanted to stay with my dad also but mum wasn’t having it. We had to be very careful when we came out of our car as we were all wearing shorts and there were snakes in the marshy land.

There were three spaces in the car and my sister sat on my mums lap. We said bye to my dad and the driver and we taken to the Treetops Hotel where the Germans were staying. We had stayed there a few years before and to my surprise the owner of the hotel remembered us. My grandfather and the owner’s father are good friends, which is why I’m sure they remembered. They gave us some drinks and we sat in the patio.

By this time it was about six ‘o’ clock. Still no one had told us anything. Every time we heard a car come into the parking lot my mum told me to go and check if it was dad but we were disappointed every time. No one knew anything. We asked every driver, “Has anyone gone for them?” Every time the answer was the same, “I don’t know”

My mum kept asking, “Why hasn’t anyone gone?” The owner said that it was because all the four-wheel drives were out on safari. It was very dark by now and we were panicking. For the first time in my life I actually understood the true meaning of panic: sudden and infectious fear. It was defiantly infectious, my mum felt it first as I think it hit her first what was happening. As it was getting dark it would be even harder to find them.

I was feeling all those things that the driver had asked me earlier, scared, frightened, nervous, apprehensive, concerned and worried. I had to be strong for my mum, my brother and my sister. I still went out in the dark every time we heard a car. We were still sitting in the patio drinking our third or fourth drink when we heard another car come in.

At about eleven ‘o’ clock I ran outside again and there I saw our van, dad and our driver. I ran up and hugged my dad. I was so happy I completely forgot to go and tell my mum that they were ok. When I had been gone for about 5 minutes my mum, brother and sister came out to look for me and that’s when we had a mini ‘family reunion’!

After thanking the hotel manager and the Germans we got into our van and drove back to Simba Lodge. During the journey dad told us about how twenty men and a four-wheel drive were needed to drag the van out of the ditch. One of the good points of that experience was that without a licence we were able to have a mini night safari. We say and heard lots of hysterical hyenas!

We drove back to through the gates of Simba Lodge when the gatekeeper told us that they had sent out a search party for us! We all laughed about it and still do but that was one of the most frightening experiences of my short life and I have never ever panicked so much!