The morning was laden with a heavy fog and it was quiet out on the plains. While riding in the jeep down the rutted roads, I thought I saw movement at the base of a large tree. The tree's branches spanned the sky, some with foliage and the others gnarled with age. The tree appeared black against the fog back drop. So it was difficult to make out the shadow at the base of the old tree. I would have to take the jeep off the road to get a clearer picture of what I was seeing. The morning's fog kept a wild scent in the air, a scent that wakes the morning and the jungle predators. Over the hum of the jeep's engine it was difficult to hear the movement in the mist, but I knew I was not alone, ever, when I traveled this wild terrain.
I shortened the distance between me and the tree and the outline was becoming clearer. I could see now that it was a person. This area is a long way from the village where people would be found, so it is uncommon to find someone out here alone. I approached with apprehension. I did not want to put myself in any danger, or startle the person out here, perhaps they were not alone, or was waiting for someone. As with all hunters, you must anticipate bait and traps at every turn of the road.
As I neared, I could see this was a woman, a small of stature, petite in frame sitting high atop a large rock at the base of the old tree. I didn't know if I could communicate with her, but was soon to find out. She was clearly a white woman, though her skin was deeply tanned by the sun. There were laugh lines and a wariness in her blue eyes. It seemed as if we were both sizing each other up in our approach. I stopped the jeep and sat still in the vehicle. She dismounted from the rock and stood to her full height. She was a tall woman, nearly as tall as myself. Neither of us spoke yet.
With her in the jeep with me now, I took Mercy Auhnyu back towards the city. She was exhausted and hungry. I was able to give her water from my camelback but I could tell she needed more sustenance. She spoke softly as she told me her story about being abandoned by her safari group. They had run into a group of tribesmen and it was a fierce conflict at their vehicle. If it had not been for her being out to explore and photograph a young zebra she would have been in the altercation. She had managed to stay hidden in her place beyond the road when she saw the terrible slaughter that took place. She knew that the entire group was doing all they could to outrun the tribesmen. Once they had taken the food and water from them and the young children, they had lost further interest in the caravan.
With great anxiety she watched as the caravan drove in haste away from the site. There were dead tribesmen left on the road as their compatriots fled also. They wanted to separate themselves from the dead and dying. Mercy stayed hidden until there was not a soul left on the plains. She had only been on the safari for two days and they were to have traveled together for ten days. She didn't know which way to begin her trek back to the city. Hunger and heat had overtaken her until she found her safe spot on this large rock. There was a gap between the rock and the tree that was just enough space for her to lay down and take cover while she planned her next move.
Now as she sat with Mark in the jeep, her mind was no longer in a state of fear. She had experienced both joy and anxiousness when she had heard him approach, not knowing whether it was friend or foe. Now after having him rescue her she became more alert to her surroundings and situation. She was at his mercy to his words of kindness. She reached out to touch him once again and reassure herself that she was safe. She felt the re
Mark took Mercy back to the city. His house was located 20 miles just outside Kampala. He told her he would take her to his house so she could eat and bathe. She would be able to make her plans to return to the States by using his phone and internet. Mark cooked a meal for her while she got the dust and grime of the desert off her skin. She also wanted to scrub away the memories of her aborted safari.
Mercy stood in the shower amazed at how her vacation had turned out.
She sat at the table with Mark to dine on some fresh vegetables cooked in a Wok with a bit of chicken. Mark poured a crisp white wine into deep clear goblets. After being in the hot dry air with nothing but fear to feed on, the wine was like nectar. Mark talked about the safaris he has led in the past. His adventures were vast as varied. It was like listening to a spell binder as he talked. Mercy felt herself transported to each and every place he talked about. Her blue eyes filled with sparkle as he described all the people and places he had seen. She was feeling regret that her safari didn't turn out like the ones he described, but then it had resulted in her meeting Mark. Mercy hungrily ate the meal set before her and it made Mark laugh to see her focus be as intense on her meal as it had been on him earlier.
Mark so enjoyed having an American to talk to about his life. He knew that Mercy could understand how he feels being here in Kampala after living in the States for so many years. Mark was an excellent host, which probably came from his years of owning a bed and breakfast. Mark could talk and tell stories that kept Mercy enraptured. The hours had passed seamlessly and it was now very dark outside. Mark offered her a coffee liqueur, just enough to turn her blood hot and her body relaxed. They drank together on the front porch as they watch the villagers travel to and fro. It was a busy village, especially at night. Because of the heat during the day, there was more activity at night time when it was cool. Such a different way of life from when either of them had known.
Mercy made her travel arrangements, though she wouldn't be leaving until after daybreak. Mark was kind enough to let her stay the night in his home.
Morning came all too early, it seemed, to Mercy. Mark was one that only required 5 hours sleep, so she found him awake and drinking coffee when she walked into the kitchen. Mercy stood at the doorway and watched this man that she had met less than 24 hours ago and yet now knew so intimately. How does someone become so bewitched in just a moment? She had to get her day started and she sat at the table with Mark to talk about getting to the airport. She felt a small pang at the thought of leaving. She still had the remaining week of vacation that got cut short by her safari being cut short. She wanted to stay and hear more stories about life and the meaning of life told to her by Mark. He was a master story teller. She didn't really HAVE to leave, but she kind of dropped into his life or lap from out of the blue and had no idea what he would say if she decided not to leave. She could get herself a hotel room in the city and perhaps he would take her around the city and be her guide to life here.
Mark was thinking about how nice it was to have a beautiful woman seated at his table, drinking his coffee, and bewitching him. Mercy had been a very rapt listener. She had a lioness trait to her, she was relaxed while being on alert for danger. She was not going to be hunted again, she'd seen that first hand. Mark, while not being a hunter, definitely wanted her to be his prey. She had
After their discussion the compromise was met, Mark had to leave on safari in two days, but he would spend all of the next two days with Mercy. Their first outing would be to the local grocery, he wanted to fill the fridge and cupboards for his guest. This grocery store was unlike those in the States, it was a place to by your basic needs. It made living very simple and slow paced. There didn't seem to be the complexity that can overwhelm a person's senses. Mark was very talkative as he pointed out the houses of people that he knew or worked with on a daily basis. He painted such vivid pictures even though they were walking in the midst of the city. The people they passed on the roads were of every walk of life and culture. Those that were dressed in the colors of their village were very easy to point out. The culture in Kampala is one that relies on touch and pleasant small talk instead of life being about business and nothing but other people getting ahead of each other.
Mark took Mercy to a small café where they could sit and have a Coke together. This was the number one selling drink here in this village. He told Mercy more about how the sunsets look at night and the sounds that he has heard while out in the wilds. He described the excursions with such color and richness that Mercy could almost hear the elephants thundering around her as he spoke. There were other stories that Mercy could use all her senses to imagine, he had whispered those to her this morning in the coolness of the kitchen.