Saturday afternoon in Harare and we've been busy. My American colleague, who just recently joined the Zimbabwe study, is in Africa for the first time. As a long-time visitor to Africa, I normally avoid tourist traps at all costs. Still, everyone was eager to show the new girl a good time on her inaugaral trip, so we gave it our best effort.
It turns out that, entirely unknown to me on my 5 or 6 previous visits to Zimbabwe, there is a good time to be had at the Cheetah and Lion Park of Harare. The park is a private zoo-like reserve that barely skirts the charge of animal cruelty in my estimation. Trying to avoid paying the over-priced foreigners entrance fee of 20USD to see animals in small spaces, we claimed to be local residents and entered in on a Zimbabwe ticket worth about 5USD.
Despite the warning signs throughout the park reminding people these animals are wild, the interaction between the seemingly tame lions and their minders was pretty hilarious. In an attempt to put on a bit of a show for the tourists looking on from the car, the nearby attendant riled up the pride of male lions who were lounging in the sun by whistling to the female lionesses stretched out in the shade some 25 feet away. Taking the bait of the attendant's sexy whistle, one the female lionesses approached the male as he rolled over on his back, hind legs spread wide.
The excitement in the car built as we all discussed the likelihood of seeing a little lion porn for 5 bucks. As the lioness approached the male, she took one look at his crotch, made a quick but single lick of the area, and suddenly, with impeccable timing, chomped down hard. My male colleague in the group instinctively crossed his legs, the attendant backed away with his own hand carefully positioned in a protective cup, while the male lion himself let out a small whimper and flipped low onto all fours. The lionesses looked oddly satisfied, and we women all agreed that this interaction alone was worth even the foreign price of admission.
Back to London tomorrow. For now I'm posting from the Nairobi airport. Lots of folks from Mumbai camped out at the airport for the last two days waiting for previously cancelled flights. As if things weren't difficult enough for them already.