Sunday, 7 September 2014

Deep-sea hippo charging

I have just returned from a seven week road trip, and have many tales and pictures to share. I have also managed to dig up some old photographs relating to older blogs - I'll be sharing these soon.

But let's start with the offshore hippo:

Linga is an achipelago located in a very secluded nook on the of paradsie in unspoilt Mozambique, on the East Coast of Africa. It requires 45 Km of very tough 4x4 going through deep, hot sand to get there.
Once there, it consists of five dwellings, ensconced in coconut palms and surrounded by sugary white sand - and miles and miles of solitude. Once you have schlepped through all this with you ski-boat in tow, the ordeal is suddenly worth all the sweat an tears. Launching through the surf is a push-over, and out there the barracuda, sailfish and wahoos are panting for your lures.
Going out early one morning, we came across one of the most puzzling sights I have ever seen - from a depth of 15 metres, the bottom angled up steeply to expose a small sandy island in the middle of nowhere, three kilometres from shore.
Instead of the expected single palm tree with a marooned blonde sitting in the shade, there was a single querulous hippo eyeing us with malice.

According to the locals, the nearest hippos were in a river some 20 clicks up the coast.
We didn't have a proper camera on the boat but Ben was clicking away merrily with his Smartphone, urging Piet to go closer. Despite the hippo's body language we deemed this a safe move, being in deep water, with two 150 Hp motors idling on the transom.
The next moment the hippo charged full-tilt and Piet slammed the throttles to the gate. Everyone except Ben were in their seats and were thus able to handle the sudden acceleration safely.

Not so Ben. Fortunately he dropped his phone (preserving the evidence) in his futile attempts to grab onto something substantial before executing a perfect somersault into the drink, right between the outboards. His eyes said it all: he knew perfectly well that somewhere below him on the sandy bottom, two tons of malicious intent was zeroing in on him, hell-bent on cutting him in half.

Piet being a well-salted skipper, made a tight U-turn and Ben was retrieved with utmost haste. The water was still turbulent from the churning props when the hippo surfaced behind the transom, bellowing belligerently.

Such is Africa.

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