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Cameron Appel

NAME: Cameron Appel

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Game Drives in Mozambique

This diary entry took place at Londolozi and Mozambique

Rangers are real tricksters!

I prefer to use ‘tricksters’ rather than clowns as clowns wear make-up, and game rangers do not!

If you ever thought our job was always serious business then you were mistaken.  We’re good at pulling the odd prank or two, playing jokes and punking unsuspecting guests whenever a good opportunity arises.

Many a story involves some kind of creature doing some kind of amazing feat of nature.  But what of the stories of mischief, malintent… disorder?

These are abundant! And as I can’t share every story of the pranks played by fellow guides, I can bring your attention to one occasion where I have acted well within my character… for your own amusement.

I had a bemusement of guests from the states that were desperate to see cheetah.  And knowing full well Singita had a seen a mother cheetah with 2 cubs earlier that morning, I decided they were the type of guests I could have a little fun with… Mickey Mouse fun, that is!

I explained to them that cheetah are only found in Mozambique, and therefore we’d have to cross the border early that afternoon in order to look for them.  They were game!

Now Londolozi has a security check point on the main inbound road, complete with thatch hut, boom, and local security guard.  I drove out just after lunch to have a chat with him and explain the little prank I wanted to pull on my guests… he laughed, and was more than enthusiastic to play along!

Now I told my guests they needed to bring their passports along with them, and even made a point of checking they still had 6 months before they expired at tea, to make it more realistic.  We left earlier than the other guests that afternoon, and while we passed them on our way to the safari vehicle, I overheard one of my guests say to another, “We’re going to Mozambique to see cheetah… “!

It was perfect!

While we drove out and headed towards the ‘border’, I imparted a few facts about Mozambique, and explained that the people are very friendly, you just mustn’t answer ‘yes’ to any questions, just hold out your left arm and nod in response.

Innocent the gate guard was magnificent… literally!  He played his part to the nines!

We arrived at the ‘border’ and I could immediately tell how excited and nervous my guests were.  Innocent came out his hut, saluted, and said “Welcome to Mozambique Friends, I am Innocent!”

To which my guest looked confused.  He got them out the vehicle, and politely asked to see their passports.  I had mentioned to them earlier, that because we are so remote, the border was a little more rustic than others they were use to. One by one, Innocent looked at each of their passports, then looked at the one gentleman and said…

“You’re American, yes?” In a thick suedo Portuguese accent.

To which my guest stuck out his left arm and nodded!

Brilliant.

“You are aware that the gate closes at 7pm are you not? And if you are late, you shall stay in Mozambique till I return in the morning?”

My guest looked at me with slight terror, I just anxiously gestured, and he stuck out his left arm and nodded again.

Innocent smiled, returned their passports, and while lifting the boom beckoned back to us…

“Enjoy your stay in Mozambique!”

Simon was beside himself and I actually think he almost wet his pants.

The guests nerves settled down.  They asked questions about landmines, where’s the beach, and of course, where were the cheetah.

I was amazed that we were clearly heading west towards the settling sun however, Mozambique is a good 100kms east of Londolozi… to where the sun rises.

Anyway, Simon pulled off an incredible spot of the mother and two cubs on a termite mound just west into Singita.

I was thankful that no Singita guides responded to that sighting, as they would have blown my cover because none of them speak Portuguese.  The cheetahs moved slowly east into Londolozi, the cubs played and chased each other around their mother… much to her irritation.  And when the first vehicle responded over the radio, we waited till they were in sight, and quickly darted off before the guests realised they were being played.

We stopped for sundowners – best Mozambique sunset… EVER! And drove around – and into – the Mhangene Male Leopard.

We spent some time with him until my one guest, the gentleman, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Cameron… its 6:55! Doesn’t the border close at 7?”

Cripes, PANIC!

Well not really, but we made it look like it, and that we were spending the night in Mozambique!

We raced to the boom.  And when the clock struck 7pm and we still had no ‘border’ in sight, the guests started to worry.

“What will we do?”

“Can’t we just skip past without them knowing?”

“Is there a town nearby?”

We got to the boom and Innocent put his head out the hut with his flash light and shone it in my face!

“You’re late! You cannot leave… “ to which the poor guy just couldn’t take it anymore!

He and Simon started giggling, and it was only when I started reaching at my rifle, smiling like a moron did my guests catch on!

“You guys are too much, you know that!?” came laughs and jeers.  My guests were hitting their legs and in usual American fashion, expressed more than enough emphasis on the OMG phrase.

They thought it was hysterical!  And when the gentlemen who obeyed the ‘yes’ commands with such discipline said…

“I knew you two were having us on! Mozambique is an island!” I nearly burst with laughter!

It was a fun trick to play, and they took it well.  After a few beers and bottles of wine at dinner, they were still laughing about it at 12 o’clock that night.

I wonder if they ever did visit that island, Mozambique?



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