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This young lion, which came close enough for me to lean over and touch if I had been so inclined -- I wasn't -- provided a tall-tale to relate to my grandchildren. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

 

“An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.” — Walter Winchell

Journeys:

My early mornings are reserved for writing, but I played hooky today to run errands with my daughter-in-law.

When I moaned to her that I didn’t have an idea for today’s blog that I was going to have to write when we returned from gadding about – That’s the downside of signing up for this blog-a-day challenge – she suggested I write about my encounter with a lion.

The story is one of the anecdotes from my African safari that I tell to impress my grandkids, whom I want to think that Nana is cool, or whatever term they use for it these days. I know such self-serving promotion smacks of Frank Lloyd Wright’s decision to choose “honest arrogance” over “hypocritical humility,” but I do it anyway.

Lions sleep the day away as tourists gawk from metal contraptions that African wildlife consider just part of the landscape -- Photo by Pat Bean

And since it’s now past time for my brain to be at its writing peak, I’ll accept the suggestion and repeat the story. Once upon a time, on an August day in 2007, I had the experience of a lifetime…

All three of the native guides who chauffeured my friend Kim and I through Tanzania and Kenya for two weeks were experts at finding wildlife. On this particular morning, our guide had spotted three lions, a mother and two almost fully grown males, headed our way.

He parked and we waited for them to pass by our Land Rover. These tourist-transporting vehicles have become so common to African wildlife that they’re merely considered an indigestible part of the landscape. And Kim and I had been assured we would be perfectly safe as long as we stayed inside the metal contraptions.

As our guide had so correctly assumed, the lions passed not far from our vehicle. That is to say two of them passed. One of the younger males took a short detour to scratch his back on the tire of our Land Rover, whose canvas tops and sides had been rolled back to give us better views.

I froze, but then couldn’t resist a single shot from the camera I had in my hand. Here I was, standing mere inches away from the king of the beasts. I wanted proof – and I got it.

How “cool” is that?

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