JUST ANOTHER IMPALA
CHOBE, Botswana Captain Jost guns the launch straight at the crocodile, basking on a snag.
"Ooooooh, he's just a little baby," the guide Barbara coos. "Hel-lo bay-bee!"
The little cherub in question is a two-meter-long male. This accident report will be quite entertaining, I think. Unfortunately, I may not survive to snark about it.
Bay-bee swivels his long, flat head and flashes his teeth as we draw alongside. We all flinch.
"He's just cooling himself like a dog," Jost laughs.
That's how safaris go an aquatic one in this case: incredible animals, straight from dreams and nightmares, heave into view. Buffalos glaring among the estuary grass. Hippos piled like river-smoothed stones in a mud wallow. An elephant child chewing the ground, still unclear on the finer points of trunk mechanics and table etiquette.
And pretty soon everyone's fighting over the chili-crusted cashews and the last bottle of Savanna.
That? Oh, that's just another impala.
The sunset a sheet of gold and apricot refocuses our awe. The land dwindles to a thin wedgwood strip, sandwiched between the sky and its reflection on the river.
From the lodge porch, I watch until the last pinhole of light dissolves. This is not just another night, but my first perhaps my only ever in Botswana.
You've come a long way, bay-bee. Now pay attention.