Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Heart of Darkness--REAL Darkness

Forget about lions and leopards and snakes. Or even being chased by a lunatic giraffe (which she did again yesterday when Cornelia and I were out walking with 2 dogs. Schalk had to rescue us in his truck.)

One of the scariest experiences is going back to your bungalow on a dark night when you've forgotten your flashlight.

It happened to me once a couple of years ago when I was staying out in a far-away house. There was no moon. Do you know how dark it can be when the closest town in 1 1/2 away? You hear cliches like "can't see your hand in front of your face" or "black as pitch" but they're cliches for a reason: they're true.

I was returning from a night of merriment at Jo's house and headed across the grass, thinking it wasn't going to be difficult at all because I have a good sense of direction. Then everything seemed turned around and I was walking not on mown lawn but in high grass and tripping over stones. When I finally ran full into a large cross, I figured out I had wandered into the animal cemetery and was tripping over graves. I wandered for about 15 minutes before I was able to find the bridge leading to my house. I laugh now, but it's reaaaalllly scary not to know where you are when there could be any number of wild animals who know EXACTLY where you are.

A similar situation--but worse--happened to Willi the other night, who is seen above during one of his braver moments.

We were having a movie night at Jo's house (Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep) and after awhile Willi decided to go home, smoke a pipe, and relax rather than endure a chick flick that was in English (German is his first language). Like a good husband, he left his flashlight for his wife Cornelia. Then he left.

Almost two hours later I was in Marieta's house, feeding bottles to baboons, when Cornelia came rushing in. Willi wasn't at the house, wasn't with Schalk, wasn't with Frikkie. He was missing.

A search ensued with Schalk bringing out a spot light that could light up half of Africa. They searched and searched.

And there he was--knee-deep in the duck pond, confused, lost, and pretty mad at himself.

He had lost his way without any lights, wandered around for several hours. He hoped he wouldn't accidentally run into a snake, warthog, lion, leopard, giraffe, ostriche, or any number of creatures that would make his experience even worse. We were especially glad it was the duck pond and not the crocodile enclosure he fell into.

In the light of day, we all laughed and joked and looked at the beautiful surroundings that are Harnas and wondered how they could be scary. But at night, a different world emerges. If you want to know what it feels like, turn off all your lights, blindfold yourself, and then stand in a dark closet. Twirl around a few times. Try to identify which way is north.

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