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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Like it Should Be!

Several years back I was in the Johannesburg Airport on my way home from 3 months in Mozambique. Sitting there in the lounge a tall gentleman saddled up next to me and ask if he could join me. Of course I replied in the affirmative and he introduced himself as Martin and proceeded to tell me he had observed me several times in my old Landcrusier on my way through Montepuez, an old Portuguese town that lies on the route we follow going and coming to the Safari area around the Niassa Reserve.
Seeing me sitting there he couldn't resist finding out what I was about. Of course you already know I was there working with a Safari Operation but his story is where I am going.

Martin was from Europe and his family were in the business of manufacturing very high quality classical musical instruments which wasn't all that rare, except the particular instruments that Martins family produced were made from Ebony, or the "Blackwood" as Martin called it. They also supplied high end Piano Companies with their ebony for the keys.

Martin seemed to feel my inquiring mind cranking up in my head as I asked him how long he had been in Mozambique. He could see the excited interest on my face when he said "over thirty years." I settled my thoughts and said, could you please tell me a little about how it was when you first came? He laughed said something about his memory and began.

One time I was traveling the road to Montepuez, late one afternoon with a friend. I had an old WW II army jeep and kept the windshield folded down across the hood as you can with the old Jeeps. Back then, he continued
the road was not paved so you took your time mostly. "You know that stretch between Sunate and Metoro?" Yes I said,

Well, we were carrying on and the sun had set and I had just switched on the lights. That stretch was pretty desolate then but the road was nice and sandy so we were relaxed. I had just asked my friend to hand me a beer and just as he reached back and grabbed a couple bottles I saw in the far reaches of the lamps perimeter sitting in the middle of the road a very large Leopard.
Everything mechanical on the old jeep was in a state old age and that included the brakes.

Martin chuckled as he continued, It was an agonizing decision, to stop or go and it needed to be decided quickly as I was already weighing the outcome of both. To try and stop I would probably only slow down enough to arrive at the Cat's feet. To hit the pedal speed up and try to bluff the beast into dodging for the bush was, well iffy at the least as the old petrol motor had little or no torque.
I decided for the latter anyway and drove the pedal to the rusty floor board. Little or no extra speed was attained and we continued on course at little more than 10 miles per hour, however the little 4 cylinder spit and spat as all the extra petrol began flooding the carb and over whelming the far from new feeble spark coming to the cylinders. So we slowed slightly, and only a bit of downward angle of the track helped to maintain what little speed we had.
The Leopard loomed larger and larger especially after he quit his sitting position and struck a pose on all fours, never moving from the center of the track. As we approached it seemed he would go for the Bush but at the last moment he jumped at the jeep, bounded up and on to the bonnet with one leap and with the other flew between us and out the back in to the night. We never let up our deadly speed but slipped low into our seats with the vision of the Leopard in hot pursuit coming for us.

Trienke Lodewijk photos

He continued, "I also had a small flat on the beach in Pemba where the Elephants would come and swim the surf and Leopards hunted the beach at night. I had a young pet Vervet Monkey as a pet in a cage on my porch once. A leopard took him one night.
Back then it was a very wild place, he said in a Melancholy stare. I said I was sorry I missed it back when it was like it should be.

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About Me

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I’m a Southern Boy, just 56 last November, I get around here and there, Central America, Africa, Red Bay. I’m a Father, Grandfather, Husband, Artist and general flunky of sorts. Live in a little historic town in an old building I remodeled. Just wanted to hear myself think I guess, talk about the need of simplification, show some art, express an interest or two, brag on my dogs and see where it goes. That’s it!, That’s the deal, Thanks