The zebra buffet lasted two days. Though we were terrified at first to have the lions feeding so close, we became only mildly alarmed and, after a while, got used to them.
Me: Did you hear that? Sounds like the lions are coming this way!
Fourteen-year-old daughter: Shut up and deal.
What did we see? Unforgettable stuff. A line of 50 elephants walking single file, like burros in the Grand Canyon, up a steep mountain path to a waterfall. A hundred thousand flamingos turning a lake in Ngorongoro Crater into a bowl of pink cotton. Waking up in a tent surrounded by about 1,000 gnus and 500 zebras.
Did the kids care? No, they only wanted to hear more stories from Charles, our guide. Like how he drinks milk mixed with cow's blood. Or how at 17 he underwent the anesthetic-free circumcision that Masai teens endure—without crying. "Even closing my eyes in pain would have brought great shame to my family," Charles said. And to think that we wince when we yank off Garfield Band-Aids.
You go on safari to see the animals, but it's the people you remember. The tribal chief with 25 wives and 47 kids, breaking the record set by Larry King. The schoolchildren delirious just to go outside at recess and play 100-on-100 soccer with taped-up balls of newspaper. The Masai who jump like Kobe Bryant in sandals made of old tires and who kill lions with only spears.
And it was depressing to realize that some Americans pay as much as $50,000 each to go to nearby Botswana and Zimbabwe and blast away at lions, cheetahs and leopards. I'd love to see these cowards take on a lion like a Masai, with only a spear. It would be All-You-Can-Eat Fat Country Club Guy Night for the big cats.
It was a great trip, I guess, but Hemingway would've gone broke trying to make it sound heroic.
It was a good Huggies wipe, cold and smooth, and I was damn glad for it.