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Wednesday, 01 July 2020

Sossusvlei, Namibia - Page 2

Written by Richard Taylor
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Tent 231 turned out to be Cabin 231 with an A-frame roof of sticks. Sand and boulders and rocky hills surrounded us. Prime scorpion country I thought, making a mental note to tip out my shoes in the morning. I’d been zapped before.

“Are you having dinner at the lodge?” asked the driver.

“I guess so.”

“We’ll pick you up at six.”

At the reception desk, a signboard warned guests to steer clear of the oryx. They could be extremely dangerous. The board was signed, TALENI AFRICA.

“Who is this Taleni?” I asked Benny the desk clerk.

“It is the company,” he said. “They own the lodge and the park.”

“Taleni. Is that the owner?”

“It’s a word. In the Oshiwambo language it means to see.” He waved his hand about. “To observe.”

Outside the camp fencing, a quartet of wildebeest talenied me with suspicion, pawing the ground and snorting rudely. Beyond the wildebeest were more oryx.

“The oryx are a proud animal,” said Benny. “The national animal of Namibia.”

The jeep arrived and I joined the lodge guests waiting for the seven o’clock dinner bell. About two hundred meters into the sand, a pair of oryx were sheltering under acacia trees and drinking at a small pool – another Taleni creation to bring them within binocular range. Closer to the lodge, the tree branches sagged under great circular nests, spun by weaver birds. These were of keen interest to the hotel cat, prowling hither and yon through the shifting sands, aping his larger cousins. From the upper branches came the piercing birdcall from jungle film soundtracks – the ‘oo oo oo oo oo’ cry. The next stanza, the expected ‘ah ah ah ah’ never came and I assumed the cat got him.

The flaming grills of the buffet featured a menu listing GAME MEATS, which included oryx, impala, zebra, blue wildebeest, eland and ostrich. I passed on the national symbol but took a slab of wildebeest, as they’d been rude to me, requested some impala, since my dad used to drive one, and finished with the ostrich. It all tasted like steak, even the ostrich.

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A large Canadian tour group was filing in line behind me.

“What’s this?” asked one of the women.

“Those are game meats,” I answered.

“Oh no,” she said, recoiling.

“There’s beef and chicken at the next grill. They’re used to being eaten.”

She gave me a stony glare and led her husband away.

(Page 2 of 4)
Last modified on Wednesday, 01 July 2020

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