Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Honey Badger v Land Rover
I'm very drowsy after another sleepless night in our chalet at Africa on Foot, a walking safari camp in Greater Kruger. I’m not complaining. It was why I come to Africa. I can't think of a better way to pass a night than being serenaded by Trumpeting Elephant, whooping Hyenas, and the high-pitched yip-bark of a Side Striped Jackal.
It was just before 5 a.m. when the bush became still and peaceful. Lions were settling down to feed on a kill and Elephants began to rest in place. Just as I thought I could close my eyes and drop off to sleep, I heard something sniff loudly under our door. A minute later I heard what sounded like someone or something trying to break into our vehicle. I rolled over and gave Scott the uh-oh nudge. “I think a hyena is trying to break into N’doto.” N’doto is the name of the 1973 Land Rover we are traveling around Africa in for one year. N’doto means ‘dream’ in Swahili and she is to us. She’s old, and slow (top speed 50 miles per hour), but we love how she gets us from point A to B. Wherever she decides to rest for the night is okay with us because our bedroom is located on her roof. We merely unfold the tent, fluff the duvet, toast the end of another great day in Africa and we are ready for bed. We dream of, and look forward to, the next day and what we will discover as we poke along gravel or dirt roads – the preferred paths for adventure and discovery in Africa for us. Once in a while we splash out with a lodge stay and that's why this particular night we were in an Africa on Foot chalet and not on top of N'doto.
Scott turned to face me. “Hyena? Ha ha. What time is it? Go back to sleep.” Then after what sounded like a can opener prying open the roof of our vehicle Scott flung back the mosquito net, grabbed a head torch, and raced outside. “You bastard!” I heard him exclaim. Only, he whisper-shouted it because there were other guests in camp who were still sleeping. I went to the door to see a bow-legged gangster rodent wearing a cheap white toupee that ran the length of his body about 30 feet down the sandy road staring at a completely naked man wearing nothing but a head torch with a look that said, “Dude, I’m a Honey Badger. Do you really want to stand there in your birthday suit?” Honey Badgers like nothing better than going for the groin.
Scott read the signs. Protecting vital areas, he returned to the chalet to pull on shorts and hiking boots. Just in time. The Honey Badger was already in the process of climbing back onto the Landy in a way that would do the most damage. Instead of climbing onto the bumper, then the hood, then the roof, he stood at the driver-side door, stretched out his front legs and let his claws do the work. Suddenly I was back in the 4thgrade and Sister Mary St. Bernard (honest, that was her name. We affectionately called her Sister Bow-Wow) was using her fingernails on the chalkboard with teeth clenching, drive-you-mad effect in order to get us to pipe down. Horrendous sound, that. But like Sister Bernard, Honey Badger don’t care. I’m sure everyone in cyber space is aware of just how much the Honey Badger Don’t Care. If you have any doubts, watch this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg
“You bastard!” I heard Scott say again with quiet furry. The Honey Badger, not bothered by Scott in the least, trotted away as if he had just remembered that his favorite TV show was about to begin. Scott returned for the camera in order to photograph the damage. But Honey Badgers are not only ferocious they are quick! Scott got there in time to see that the Honey Badger prying a window away from the frame with as much effort as if he was opening a manila folder. Faster than he could whisper-fume, “YOU BASTARD!” the Honey Badger was inside the vehicle frenetically and furiously (obviously words created when man first encountered a Honey Badger) sniffing, scratching, and pawing all over the seats and along the upholstered doors like a cyclonic Tasmanian Devil (the cartoon version). He took time to paw through our library and fling books about, especially one on mammal behavior that he seemed to take special offense to. Then he climbed out the now broken window frame and onto the hood. He calmly looked back into the vehicle, looked at Scott, then back to the window as if he were contemplating a quick dash back to the library while Scott continued to wave his arms and whisper-curse at him. Finally, he hopped down and trotted away, happy to return another day.
The car smells funny.
That same night we managed to capture video of the Honey Badger in the Africa on Foot bar. Seems he likes Spiced Rum as much as we do.
Scott and Tris
Nelspruit, South Africa, a city known not only as the Gateway to Kruger, but also as a place where Land Rovers go to get repaired.