14 – Elephant tales

Elephant rock - kongwa2london.com

When you think of Africa, you tend to think of elephants, well I do. Many people have stories of their encounters with elephants, here are mine.

The family was on safari, something my father had to do quite regularly. He piled the kids in the back of the car and headed along red dusty roads for hundreds of miles.

It was hot, sticky and with cries of “Are we there yet?” and “I feel sick”, this could be any family outing anywhere in the world. On this occasion, we had stopped for a toilet break and to stretch our legs.

On one side of the road were trees and diagonally across from us by the tree line was a gigantic red boulder. It was almost egg-shaped and as we were curious, we walked over to investigate. At this point, two enormous red ears protruded from the side of the rock. Then the base of the boulder started to levitate, it metamorphosed into the back of an elephant, prompting us to race back to the car as fast as possible. In this part of Africa, the soil is red and this elephant had taken a dust bath to protect his hide from insects and the intense heat.

On another safari, this time the journey from A to B involved crossing a river and unusually this one had a bridge. The road leading to the bridge was steep and had been cut out of the earth giving you a man-made gorge. If something was to go wrong, it would go wrong in a mammoth way. With the combination of bad roads and bad maintenance, our various vehicles had more than their fair share of break failures. As we descended, dad put his foot on the brake, nothing happened. “Not to worry”, he thought as the car would slow down after we had crossed the bridge. The car increased in speed and as we turned a bend, there standing in the middle of the bridge was an elephant. Cars and elephants don’t mix and besides this elephant didn’t have insurance. With a bit of quick thinking, Dad steered the car against the side of the gorge. He used the friction of metal on rock to slow us down and eventually brought us to a halt, just before we reached the bridge. Luckily unhurt and in shock, we sat watching a bemused elephant pack up its ‘trunk’ and stroll past us.

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