Story telling from Australia
When Sydney gets too much I mumble darkly about leaving. ‘I’ll go and live in a field if I have to!’
Clyde waits for the storm to pass while I scour property ads for cheap houses in remote areas. I dream of parking a caravan on the side of a river and wonder if it’s not too late to build our own eco-home.
Now there’s a new option. After our stint in Kenya I’m convinced I could live in a cave.
If Hollywood ever remakes The Flintstones, Sabuk could serve as a set. Our lodge was a magnificent space hewn out of rock. It wasn’t exactly a cave because it had a roof but it opened onto a ledge above the river and staying there is the closest I’ve ever come to spending the night in a cave.
It was a magical experience. A shifting breeze brought the sounds and smells of the bush, some familiar, others sharply different. There was the flinty tang of stone, the rich smell of earth, the sound of seed pods rustling, branches rubbing, dry grass whispering and beneath it all a river rushing through a ravine in the distance.
Acacia trees, thorn bushes and giant euphorbia peppered the landscape around Sabuk, which made it feel like a bit like Broken Hill. Elephants on the move signalled rain was on the way; like cattle in Australia, they seem to have a sixth sense about the imminent arrival of rain.
Rock hyrax occasionally scurried across the ledge – the Kenyan equivalent of possum or guinea pig.
Sweet little Dik-diks could probably have made it up there too, although they tend to stay away from exposed places.
Dik-diks are one of the smallest antelope in the world – barely sixteen inches high – they get their name from the call they make when fleeing danger. They’re in the unfortunate position of being the preferred prey of most carnivorous animals. Pity the poor Dik Dik.
The only other creature that could climb that high would be a leopard, and in the absence of any dik-diks humans would surely be a tasty alternative. Given the lack of doors, when night fell the only thing that separated us from a passing leopard was mosquito netting.
Owner/manager Verity assured us that would be sufficient. ‘They don’t like the way the net blows in the breeze.’
Of the six people staying at Sabuk that night, three of us had exactly the same dream of being savaged by a leopard while we slept. Perhaps fear is contagious? Or maybe a leopard really did slink across the ledge and the mosquito netting saw him off.
Either way, that dream (or that reality) didn’t stop me from getting a great night’s sleep on our second and final night, which is why I’m now convinced I could live in a cave.
But maybe I’m still dreaming.