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Wildlife Encounters

Being an African pre-historian (archaeologist) I've been lucky enough to visit places most people never dream of, let alone would even 'choose' to go to. While luckily, I have never had a face-to-face encounter with dangerous animals (unless you count the Sykes monkeys at Nairobi Park who run over and steal things from your pockets... or the female monkey who kept threatening me and charging me because she saw I was scared, she wanted my lunch and, really, I think she enjoyed watching me run away in terror)

I spent time some years back in the Middle Awash in Ethiopia on an expedition. One morning as I was waking up in my tent, I heard a loud throaty roar. My first thought was - "WOW! A lion! I wonder where it is!" and I rushed to pull on my clothes to go out and see if I could catch a glimpse. Luckily reason (and then some fear) overtook me and I realized that was the ONE thing I should NOT do! So, I lay back down (breathing more heavily now) hoping it was just "passing through". I heard it again (it sounded like it was right by my ear!!) and then he (or she) must have moved on.

Hyenas stole my sneakers one night (my tent was tiny and I would leave them - smelly and dirty as they were, outside the entrance to my tent. It was SO hot, I would sleep with my feet uncovered and sticking out of the tent. That same night (before or after they took my shoes - I don't know) I awoke to a hyena licking my toes...

On the way to take a "shower" (a bucket of water I'd use to wash myself, brush my teeth, clean my lenses, wash my hair and then was my clothes with the remaining water....) a puff adder crossed the path in front of me. I told 'him' to "go ahead, he got there first' and he slithered off into the brush. I, on the other hand, decided to go in the opposite direction behind a different bush for my ablutions.

Heading out to our excavation and watching a "gaggle" (?? is that what you call a herd of ostriches?) running... looking like ladies dashing off to a hat sale!

Being stuck in a torrential downpour somewhere on the Big Island of Hawaii - above a green sand beach and having zillions and zillions of (ugh) cockroaches climbing up our legs to reach "higher ground" so they wouldn't drown. Our legs were BLACK with them as we cut up our feet trying to pile lava rocks under the landrover (or whatever it was) to get us out of there. Talk about a living nightmare!!

Oh there's lots more stories... if only I could remember them all... feeding orange soda to our elephant(whom we hired to take us up the scarp to the rock shelter we were excavating) in Sihawal, India... it must have tickled his trunk because he let out a BIG sneeze and sprayed "mucosa elements" (read 'snot') all over one of out colleagues who was sitting on top of him at the time. (Luckily, wearing a hat...)




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