The road through Bullen’s African Lion Safari was long and winding, really excellent for motion sickness. But the good thing about the park was that the population density of lions to humans was high, or so it appeared to this seven year old girl. Prey you make it out alive.
Safety being the park owners greatest priority, there were many signs warning the unwary and stupid to stay in their cars and keep the windows closed. Also no stopping was allowed, but that seemed to be an optional rule, much like keeping the windows shut. It was the ’70s after all. In the event of a breakdown, preytrons were instructed to beep their horn until help arrived. Apparently it was quite common for lions to rip the bumper bars, windscreen wipers and rear-view mirrors off cars. And last, but not least, there were signs warning that trespassers would be eaten.
As we drove through the
hunting grounds sanctuary, there were a lot of lions milling around, on or near the road. It was almost like they saw their next snack coming. I suppose my father could have kept driving, very slowly, as instructed, just forging a little path between us and those lions. But noooo… he had to stop. As the sun beat down on our dark green car, the temperature and tempers in the car began to escalate dangerously. Yet, caught in the gleam of several pairs of amber eyes, we were spellbound by those magnificent beasts. The feeling was mutual. They could not take their eyes off us. The languidness and sheer size of the big cats dulled my father’s mind and senses.
My little sister and I might have got a little hysterical as the lions jumped onto the bonnet and roof of our car. We might have been told to keep the noise down, or words to that effect. One squeak out of us, and the cats would be able to smell our fear. A tasty little snack, and I don’t mean ice-cream.
Those lions sure did have good taste. They claimed the car and us as their own.
We were so lucky, ladies and gentlemen; lucky to see those beautiful creatures up close and lucky that our car was built so sturdily that it could withstand the heft of several lions. There must have been about six lions on the car, or maybe only three. Anyway, more than one. A lot. And yet more, either curious or hungry, circled the car, peering through the windows. Pacing and peering. Peering and pacing. They were in no hurry to move off, and we, in this royal command performance, could only gaze in awe or terror, all the while basting in our own fetid juices. Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, my little sister had vomited, whether from fear, heatstroke or both, I really don’t know. I cannot abide the smell of vomit, a smell so putrescent that it immediately causes me to vomit too. A smell was on the breeze. Naturally, my father’s first reaction was to start winding down the windows. His action stayed only by much crying, screaming and gnashing of teeth. Outside, the disturbance was the subject of much interest. The predators were getting restless.
There was only one thing to do… [Cut to photo of lions eating.]
Get the fuck out of there. No, not out of the car, ladies and gentlemen. Out of the park. So my dad shifted the car into gear and took off. I think all the screaming must have scared those lions because they scattered to the winds.
So how did the story end? Neither lions or vomit deterred my dad. He had paid a lot of money to take us on this safari and there were many more lions and other predators to see. We had to see them all, preferably before they saw us – driving along with our windows down. Screams and retching could be heard intermittently from the back of the van and the front windows were wound up and down depending on the sound effects. And then finally, as the sun set in the west, we all drank lemonade.
What a day! Good story, eh? Unpleasant sure, but gee, what about those lions? How cool was that? It’s all true. At least the bits I remember.