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April 25, 2013

Island Moon

Mary Craft’s Note: My brother’s more humorous slant on our hippo encounter.

Today, we met hippos They are fat, slow and do not look so smart but they kill more people than any other African animal. Of course, you can readily avoid an angry hippo. In fact, you have to work real hard to place oneself in a hippo danger zone. They do not hunt you down. When going to see hippos we made certain the boat guide is not only not regulated but has no license to take tourists onto a lake full of hippos and other creatures. There is no way that our toothless hippo guide could ever be licensed. The concept of placing three oversized Americans into an aluminum canoe to get close to a multi-ton dinosaur cannot pass any safety regulation.Upon further reflection, we can be certain that our safari guide, nicknamed Little Sparrow, contacted a cousin to meet us at the lake edge and to bring something that floats. We turned off the main road and followed child-like drawings of smiling hippos that led through a deeply rutted narrow dirt road with tall cacti on either side. We must have been trespassing on the local

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We are told that hippos do

not sweat water but blood. This must make hippos very happy in the middle of the day. We cut off the engine and proceed to pleasantly drift. We can now hear the hippos serenading us with belching and rhythmic flatulence. Any given hippo is several tons and observing half dozen hippos together presents a solid immovable mass of blood sweating meat. Now, a hippo on the land is not a serious risk when you are in a boat but a hippo can be deadly in the water. Our fat little friends heaved and rolled on the water edge and became a bit stressed by us.This

Little Sparrow our guide was waiting for us each morning.

rancher’s land. We pulled up to two other vehicles and no other tourists. After paying way too much money, we were given ill-fitting life jackets and met our boat “captain.” Despite our party of three consisting of an optometrist, a physician and an attorney we collectively failed to observe that our boat, launch, a/k/a death

And even worse, them getting a close look at us By Steve Krkljes

14802 Compass Corpus Christi, TX 78418

Getting a Too Close Look at Hippos

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ship was floating nearby. To explain the visual effect the boat appeared to be sitting on land. Hard to believe that anyone could be confused whether a boat is on water or land.

“All aboard” I walked toward the boat trying to visualize how we are going to get this 12-foot canoe to the water’s edge. There was no hitch to any car or truck. Our emaciated captain could not carry this boat. I was more than willing to help him carry the canoe. Just before I was going to step next to the canoe the ground around the area moved. I did not have any beer, yet, so it was a bit odd. The canoe was completely strangled and surrounded with lily pad type plants. The vegetation was so thick that the canoe appeared to be sitting on the ground. The lily pads extended far out into the open lake. One more step and I would have gone knee deep into the murky water. At the same time, my eye doctor sister is chirping away and asking me, “Steve, where’s the water?” All I can do is point to what appears to be solid ground and say “It is here.” She must have thought I was crazy. After tiptoeing onto our very little canoe, we made sure that we distributed our weight to avoid flipping into the water. Once we were all properly spaced and holding to the sides with white knuckles our little Captain Nemo started the outboard motor. After the coughing and belching, our putt putt motor propelled us slowly into the lake. The brim of the canoe was several inches above the water line and you could easily dab your hand into the water. Not knowing what flesh-eating fish may lurk in the dark water the last thing I wanted to do was touch the water.

Blood, Sweat and Tears Due to the high noon sun, a gaggle of hippos were located along a brown slimy, muddy shoreline laying on top of each other. You can catch a glimpse of pink bellies, eyelids and ears.

is the part where we began a fun hippo version of Marco Polo. Hippos submerge and can remain underwater for several minutes. They walk along the bottom of the lake and can come up anywhere. You need sonar to locate them. Normally, a submerged hippo is not a concern when you can start your motor and scurry away. On the other hand, when in Kenya who wants normal? To add to our excitement was the realization that we were drifting just so pleasantly directly toward man killing

blood sweating-aggravated hippo with a mouth that can bite an average man in half. Our fearless Captain was dismayed that the little engine that could would not. The motor would not start despite his frantic efforts of pulling the whip cord and he was only drawing more attention to our stranded condition.

Don’t rock the boat

My friends, these were desperate times for our little company of world travelers. My nephew, Dr. Craft, assessed the perilous situation and came to a brilliant rescue plan. There is no doubt that his many years at medical school

have led him to save us. He decides that he should take his 6’8” frame and unknown weight and stand up in our boat that is the size of a large bath tub. Apparently, he believed that making the boat as unstable as possible will help... whether it will help the hippos or us I am still not sure. I was too quick to be critical of his action because he now grabs a pole and wants to plunge the pole into the water with the good thought that the pole can be used to push off the lake bottom. Alas, if only the pole was long enough to reach the bottom. He only succeeds in losing his balance and rocking the boat. If I had a gun with one bullet then shooting him would provide a better chance of saving us than killing one hippo.

We make our get-away

While this mayhem is ongoing, our fearless captain was measuring how far he would need to jump free of the canoe to reach the nearest bank. Perhaps fearing a wrongful death charge, our Captain Nemo removes the plastic top of the motor and starts paddling water to move us away. This would have the same effect of using a Dixie cup to propel the Titantic. At this point, even the hippos who thought we would make a fast escape decided it may be worth also submerging and investigate us. My dear sister has concerns, one was to make sure that I continue to videotape and the other was to get the heck out of there. I, of course, was way too busy trying to find a religion and a god that could save us. Before we were provoked to have a mutiny our Captain, in a stroke of pure luck, discovered that he was standing on the fuel line making the motor useless. Once the fuel flowed, we were able to make our escape much to the dismay of the hippos.

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