Little Yellow Ball of String - A Travel Tale from a South African Game Park
As a living Australian citizen yet a true born South African in heart I have seen much of Southern Africa including the Kalahari, Miremi and Serengeti. I'd been to the wildest of the African plains and slept amongst the screeching, roaring wildlife in nothing but a 2cm thick canvas tent. That's the reason why never in my life I thought that taking my friend on her first time visit to Africa to the local lion park could turn out to be my wildest of all experiences.
A few weeks before Christmas, my boyfriend Stef, my all Aussie gold girlfriend Carnie and myself set of in an old yellow Volkswagen beetle in a pitiful attempt to show Carnie a bit of the African famous fauna. So to one of our local lion parks (no names mentioned) we set to hunt out the kings of the jungle.
They were so close that we could smell them, we could actually see the ticks on their underneath. Being in the beetle with its rounded little windows was like being in an aquarium and these lions were close enough to touch. Carnie, not at all intimidated, sat saying aw hello pretty kitties.
However I on the contraire wouldn't say I was comfortable- put a bloody kitty next to that and see the size difference. Then lions seemed too intrigued by us, they circled us, they started sniffing the car. Then they started licking the back right wheel. We thought that maybe they could smell dog pee and were curious about it. The licking persisted and then the car began to rock which is when we realized not only were they licking the tyres now they were chewing them.
Stefano quickly turned the engine on at this stage but as soon as he did they became aggressive looking at us inside the beetle. So he turned it off again and we sat still now hardly breathing. As they bit and locked their jaws around the rubber they would drag their heads and even with both breaks on the car was getting dragged metres at a time along with them. The lions kept rocking and dragging us with their chews and gauges until sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss and drop the tyre popped and now the beetle lowered even further to the almighty force of these cats.
Crying into the phone all I could manage to tell her was that our car was getting eating by lions. I managed to communicate across our fair location and she told me two things. One, the rangers were on their way, and two to sit as still as possible and be as quiet as possible.
Relieved to hear the first I got off the phone and panicked at the sound of the second as I saw Stefano shouting at these lions who now were attempting the front right tyre and Carnie who was angrily cursing at tourists in the wild dog enclosure now crowding around to get a better look at Friday feeding time.
Trying to shut them up I reached a new stage of hysteria as I looked back to Carnie; consuming the background to her portrait were the underneath of two huge paws bigger than her head, two big yellow eyes and a drooling mouth with big lion breath fogging the glass. Turning my head in another direction I saw on her right window a lion lean in and slowly lick the glass with this sandwich sized tongue. Once again I frantically called reception to find how long still to wait, she just said they were coming and to stay calm.