The Elephant in the Shower…

The Elephant in the Shower

A tented shower on the edge of the steep bank of the Runde River, hoisted upon a carpet of gold, under a Cordyla Africana tree in the wilderness of Gonarezhou, Zimbabwe. This ‘place of the elephants’,  is probably not the wisest place to be when a hungry bull elephant wants to eat the multitude of fallen yellow Cordyla flowers….
This hot afternoon I was delightfully alone in camp, sketching, ruminating and at peace. Everyone else except the camp staff had departed on a game drive, and the staff had wandered down to the river bed to wash and collect water for our camp. Relishing  the thought of a refreshing bathe,  I entered my shower, which was fully charged with lovely warm water by the camp staff, and happily soaked my hair and body. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that perhaps the gentle bull we had seen yesterday eating fallen flowers at this same tree, would return to do the same this afternoon…so I was listening and was half-expecting the sound when it came.  Wet, and with hair just rinsed of shampoo, encased in the flimsy canvas of the shower cubicle, I suddenly heard a long drawn out sigh, a breathing-out of warm air down a long grey trunk. I had company. No footfall had warned me, this quiet giant had arrived in silence, save for his breathing….
What to do? He was there, in my space and very real. I coughed once to let him know that the shower was not as empty as he perhaps presumed…and slowly peeped my head around the canvas edge to see what I was dealing with… Oh my goodness, there he was, as close, and as immense as I had anticipated. He was frozen still, poised in mid-step, pondering my cough! My mind bounced- should I stay or retreat…. staying would not be clever , caught like a fly in a canvas fly trap…a flimsy canvas fly trap! But retreating was a challenge – he was so close upon me that no matter which way I exited the shower I would be literally under his nose and might startle him into challenging the space between us. Quick decision and I prepared my escape…wrapped my tiny towel around me, (forget spending precious moments trying to put clothes on) and crept out on the far side, keeping the canvas between him and me so he did not see my exit, and straight down the steep bank into the river bed I went, no shoes on so I could move more quietly and prepared all the way to throw my toilet bag behind me for him to stumble over if he came after me! It worked, I managed to disappear from his space without alerting him and when I climbed the bank again into our camp area and looked back he was still standing there thinking about my cough….
I felt remorseful when sitting relaxing on the bank later, watching those incredible Chilojo Cliffs in the late afternoon sun……
…..he had disappeared, had politely trundled off, his sweet flower meal forgotten because of my intrusive presence, my cough, the smell of shampoo ….
I had had my shower but he did not get the meal he had probably been thinking about all morning. Sorry Mr. Nzhou!

About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in adventure travel, Africa, African child, African flora, African Safari, african wildlife, animal rights, beauty, bicycle rides, bush camps, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, chilojo cliffs, conservation, eco-tourism, edible plant, elephants, flowers, food, gonarezhou national park, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, Rivers, runde river, serenity, travel, Uncategorized, wilderness, zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Elephant in the Shower…

  1. Dr.Musa Mhlongo says:

    Wowww, quite an amazing experience. That’s the beauty of nature…

  2. Ann says:

    Lovely experience! Those Gonas eles must be getting more relaxed these days. I have had experience of not so gentle giants there!



  3. Jeremy Borg says:

    A beautifully written account of a special encounter

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