Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

February 15, 2016, Mole National Park, Ghana

February 15, 2016. Mole National Park, Ghana Even the air seems to be holding it's breath.
 We feel soaked in the stillness. 
A low sun struggles to poke through
 The hazy hot sky.
 In the distance; from lighter to darker,
 Are bands of gray and brown foliage.
 The occasional tree stands over the rest, 
Not only taller, 
These sentinels are green.
 In the foreground; brown flatlands
 And two large water areas
 edged in bush. Gradually, we hear whistles and coos.
 Very tiny green birds play
 On the sides of tree trunks. 
Small rusty coloured birds 
Pop in and out of tree holes. 
A colourful red throated bird might be a parrot. 
Fly catchers do figure-eights. 
Herons and egrets swoop over the water. 
A rustle of foliage
Is caused by playing monkeys.
 Some groups of monkeys have small dark faces,
 Some carry black babies on their bellies and seem to wear
 Red jackets and fuzzy red toupees. 
Small spotted African deer and Guinean fowl
 Are just dots on the brown flatlands.
 A crocodile is a long dark shape
 Gliding through the water. 
Suddenly, we are surprised to find a deer 
Standing right beside us.
 Then a large baboon sneaks up 
And steals someone's sandwich.
We are not only watching But being watched. The arid heat is just as intense At 6 AM the next morning. Now five black elephants Play and bath in the pond. Only when the 7 AM walking tour Gets too close, 
Do they give up their frolicking,
 And plod in a line up the bank and into the bush. 
On their way, they scoop up dirt
 And shower it on themselves. Their glistening black bodies turn brown.
Once the elephants have disappeared, 
We again delight in the birds
 The African chipmunks, the tiny lizards,
 The monkeys and the deer. One distant black dot seems larger and closer 
To the ground than a deer; 
A pointed snout on a huge head,
 Two small tusks, 
Big eyes and prominent whiskers. 
We realize that we are seeing 
Our first wart hog in the wild.
Later as we sit reading and writing, 
Both monkeys and warthogs surprise and delight us
 When they appear within a few feet of us. In the afternoon, we join a safari tour. 
As I climb up into the old decrepit landrover,
 I remember our landrover, "Cranberry; 
Landrovers have aluminum bodies that never rust. Unfortunately everything else on them 
Often refuses to latch or work,
 This landrover is no exception. 
As we bump and grind over a rocky trail, 
Our armed guide answers questions: 
All of the deer we have seen
 Are really one of the seven species 
 Of antelope that live in Mole Park. 
Mole Park is 4500 square kilometres
 And was started in 1971. 
There are four species of monkeys.

Our African chipmunk is really an African squirrel.
 Mongoose are smaller than I imagined. 
So are the crocodiles.
 Although there are lions and other large cats in the park,
 It is very unlikely that we will see one.
 The same goes for all the poisonous snakes.
 The beautiful bright green bird,
 That I keep photographing,
 Is a red throated bee eater. Eventually, we spy one lone elephant. We climb down from our land rover And gingerly traverse the hundreds of rough elephant footprints From the rainy season that are now cement hard. When I think we are about 25 meters from our elephant, Our guide advises us to never get closer than 50 meters. I take dozens of photos of our elephant hidden in the bush; An ear, a trunk, a tail, a tusk. Suddenly our elephant steps out of the bushes. His ears flap back and forth. His truck swings in front tasting the air. We lock eyes. I make sure I get one great photo, Before I leave him be.

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