We awoke to a cacophony of bird calls and red streaks of sunshine lighting the sky behind Mt. Kilamanjaro. I stopped to put on my pants and by the time I ran outside, the best of the show was over. Tomorrow, no time for pants. We were told that we were lucky to see the mountain at all; most days it remains shrouded in clouds. As the sun warmed the plains and cool winds came off the snow topped mountain, dust devils swirled.
At breakfast we struggled to explained our Halloween traditions and customs to Fred. Trying to explain why you clothe your children in strange costumes and send them out to beg, was as difficult as it was for Fred to explain witch doctors to us.
Amboseli is a strange place, lots of desert, but with a swampy area where the snow melt from the mountain percolates up out of the ground. Naturally, this is where the animals gather. Because we saw mostly herbivores, the place had a Garden of Eden feeling, but we did see an antelope bleeding , because a jackal had taken a chomp out of its hindquarters. Both of them were exhausted by the encounter, stopping to rest and we could not tell how the story would end for sure. The jackal might have stayed hungry, but the antelope's days are numbered. The giraffe formed pretzel shapes, bending their legs to get down to the water and bright green food. Masai live all around the park with their cow herds. Since they do not hunt and there seems to be plenty of water for all, the Masai are allowed to bring their cattle into the park for a drink. We saw the elephant clans lead by the matriarch, make their way across the plains, dust swirling behind them. They paused occasionally while their babies nursed and the aunties baby sat whenever mom stopped to eat. They nearly disappeared once they got to the center of the swamp, sinking into the refreshing mud. They were joined thereby a rhino family with similar cooling activities on their mind. Birds sat on their backs, picking who-knows-what out of their orifices.
After lunch and a refreshing swim in the hotel pool, we headed back to the swamp. A strategically placed road took us right up to a herd of elephants up to their arm pits in water and greenness. A hippo nearby hoovered up the vegetation so energetically, he collapsed with the exertion of it all. All we could see of him was a rounded back tended by white cow egrets waiting for him to come back to life. After eating their fill the elephants eased their way out of the water and ambled back to the desert. We had to be out of the park by 6:30 and shortly before, we came upon a lioness stalking a sleeping wildebeest. They sleep with their eyes open and waken often. The lioness crept forward in that traditional hunting pose, but in the nick of time the wildebeest woke and dashed away. The only way the lioness could have nailed him was if he was still sleeping. Once he got up, he was much too tall for her.