"I don't care! This is bull#^*#! I'm not paying a taxi $5 to drive me to a $5/night campsite! That's ridiculous! I can see the entrance down the road! They're just trying to scam us! We're walking!"
R man and I were in the middle of a small village in Southern Zambia a half mile away from the entrance of South Luangua National Park and Croc Camp (a reasonably priced campsite that offers safaris) where R man had begged me to go so he could finally see his LION! Men and their lions....we'd just spent 8 hours (4 hours waiting and 4 hours moving) in a very small minivan with 12 adults, 5 kids, a bicycle, a large screen television, enough toilet paper for an end of the world hideaway, two live chickens and about 15 dozen chicken eggs....I was not too excited about yet another form of Zambian style overpriced, ridiculously bad transportation if I could help it...
"But Sarah....you haven't seen their eyes! Look into their eyes....they think we are walking to our death!"
"No. No. NO! I'm walking!!! I don't care! They just want to rip us off again and have a good laugh at our expense. I'm not doing it!"
"Ok....but, I'm taking a taxi."
"FOR REAL?!? Ok! I'm your husband. I love you. You're crazy. We are going to die, but I'm coming with you! At least we'll die together. Happy?"
"Yes! I don't see any hippos or lions, do you?!?"
And we begin to walk out of the bubble like village of men standing on the streets staring at us while drinking cheap beer and children running around us begging for money....we were most definitely the entertainment for the evening. We leave the security of normal (for Africa) and step out onto the dusty road of nothing for half a mile, which became a tree covered area of the unknown shortly after that with a small wooden sign that you could just make out - Croc camp - $5 camping - Looked pretty easy. I had no idea what I was doing.
R man: "I sure hope you know what you're doing!"
We were about 5 steps out on the dusty road of abyss when we heard a voice that sounded like Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter "Hey! Guys! What ar' ya' doin'? Yo' gonna get killed! Stop!"
R man: "Oh thank god! SARAH! I TOLD YOU!"
The best part was, when he ran out to us barefoot, for a moment I really thought he WAS Steve Irwin! Dressed in his best Khaki short and shirt combo, crazy wild blond hair and big! As he loomed down over us with a scolding concerned face, I felt smaller and smaller...and a little stupid....
"Right past those trees is a whole family of elephants with a big angry daddy who will KILL YOU!"
"oh uh. ok."
"come over 'ere and I'll give y'all a ride"
You know...in his personally owned safari truck.
Turned out the guy owned Croc Camp and knew what he was talking about. Sure enough as we drove in right next to the side of the road was a heard of elephants...4 females, 2 kids and a great big DADDY!
To this day, when we tell the story, Rodolfo still enjoys a good "I told you so" at my expense!
Plus, he lived to see his lion: