Jade Scully is a copywriter, blogger and online marketing enthusiast who has published her work on a series of online publications and websites including Leeulekker who provide a range of travel and touring information for southern Africa travelers.
When I was much younger I spent some time in Zimbabwe with my mother and family. We lived in Harare, but would often go on camping trips to Lake Kariba, or stay on a house boat. These were my favorite times as we were pretty much living in the bush, staying in tents, with no city smog and noise to disturb the peace, and my cousins and I could roam free, playing in the grass, swimming in the rivers and lake – it really makes up one of the best memories I’ve got.
It was on one of these summer holiday trips that my mom and I had a close call with a Hippo.
We would swim in the river every day, while someone stood lookout on the high banks, watching for crocodiles. If there ever was a croc-scare we’d all run straight out of the water, squealing with anxious excitement, to the safety of the ground. Fortunately no-one ever came up close and personal with a smiley croc.
One night, it must have been really late or even early morning, I woke my mother up asking her to take me to the toilet. I really couldn’t keep it in so reluctantly my mom clambered out of the tent, with me close behind her, into the dark night.
I immediately sensed a massive being to my left, and turned towards it. My eyes had not adjusted so all I could see was blackness but insistently I whispered to my mom “there’s a hippo right there”. When I mean “right there” I mean “right there”. We had set up our tent close to another couple’s spot, so there wasn’t too much space between us – maybe a couple paces. But my mother, in her exhausted stupor waved away my frantic insistence and we began making our way to the block of loos. All the while we were walking the hairs on the back of my little neck were on end.
I sighed relief as we reached the toilet building and happily did my business before realizing we’d have to go back. Though, as my mother wasn’t too fazed I relaxed a little and we nonchalantly walked back to our tent, unzipped the entrance and climbed back into the warmth without a worry in the world. Perhaps I had been mistaken.
But I wasn’t. The next morning as we approached the breakfast area we saw the couple who were staying in the tent next to ours. They had bags under their eyes and shocked looks on their faces.
“Did you not hear the Hippo last night!?” they asked us.
My mom hesitated. “No”, she replied, “what do you mean?”
“Last night, there was a hippo grazing right between out tents for hours. We were petrified.”
My mom looked at me in surprise – I really had been right.
It’s a story we’ve told many times over – without even knowing it my mother and I walked past an adult hippo grazing next to our tent without even batting an eyelid! And considering the bad rap they have with some people, we’re lucky he (or she) was in a good mood that night!