Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunset/night-drive, March 14th

When we arrived in Lower Sabie Lodge in Kruger, it was just in time for the night-drive that we had ordered. All the other people were waiting in the game-drive vehicle, so we had no choice about seats. As the driver was giving his briefing I quickly scanned the other people. The left side was balanced with six couples, men and women. On the other side – our side, were two girls… and their boyfriends/husbands. The rest were men. Men with men! … and then me and Oyvind. Suddenly I missed my wife and children, almost like a statement. We were obviously on the gay side. I felt really bad. It was almost as if I saw the whole thing with homophobic (Nevans) eyes, something that I think I’m not. In my life I’ve worked with quite a few gay people, and been totally relaxed about it. No problem with it today either – just an urge to tell people around that I’m actually not, even though I’m sitting on the skew side… with Oyvind. Still, with a skew and a straight side, the car showed no signs of lopsidedness. The car went straight.

As we started the drive, we were watching the animals like all the other couples… both on the skew and the straight side. At least for a short while as long as the sun was up. As it was getting darker and harder to see, we had to use powerful torches to scan the bush for animals. In addition to the front lights and torch that the driver was controlling, there was one more in the back on either side. On my seat… and it was stuck in the side so that only the person in that particular seat could use it. I thought how bloody lucky can you be when you’re the last one to arrive and choose seat? It was a big deal, a good thing! My eyes are trained for hunting in the deep woods in Vang in Norway, and who else could be better qualified for this thing than me. I experienced some proud moments as I started to swing the torch around. It was an important job… and a prestigious one too… coz now I could actually make a difference for the outcome of this trip… be a good torchbearer and see tons of animals, or not! Proudly I could see all the heads in front of me turn to whatever I pointed the torch at. They could actually not see a single thing other than what I was showing them. I could feel a sense of power and responsibility, like a ranger light… or light ranger.

But then we saw bush, bush and more bush… and no cool animals. I was starting to feel the pressure. We saw some small animals… a couple of snakes… and an owl. All the time I was in charge of directing the light on the creatures so that the other ones could get some good shots with their cameras. Steady and focused… and all the time searching! No relaxing and enjoying. For each time a small animal was localized and lit up, it was like a unison cry from all of them: “… is that the best you can do? Show us the lions, the cheetahs and the leopards”! There was no actual sound, but it was still there… loud and clear and sending to my receiving frequency to make me sharpen up. It was like a fax that is repeating the same fax over and over again – and I was tiptoeing in the receiving end…

As time was running out and the predators were still absent I could feel all the angry looks piercing. I was clearly to blame for this, and I was feeling really unpopular! Maybe we should change camp tomorrow… and make a silent escape. Instead we stayed strong… and stayed.

Now of course I understand why that specific seat was left empty for the last people to arrive. Nobody wanted that ungrateful job. Not only that, but it’s a hard job as well. To do a good job you’ll rather stand than sit, and you’re concentrated like hell. In fact I should actually be paid as well for taking on such a hard job!

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