Comfortable or Careless

During a trip to Africa - specifically Kruger National Park - I did the most careless thing I have yet to do there.  I almost ran out of gas among a plethora of wildlife.  I have yet to decide if it's good that I was so chilled and comfortable in Africa that I didn't think of such a basic thing which is so unlike me, or if it was bad to be so comfortable I got careless, which in Africa could be a matter of life or death.


My plan was to stop in the next camp and grab something cold to drink, get gas then proceed south towards the camp I was staying in that night.  The temperature was between ninety and one hundred degrees and it was very humid.  Not long before reaching camp, I spotted two cheetah sitting in thick shrub under a tree cooling off in the shade.  I stayed there for longer than I should have knowing how much driving I had yet to do before reaching camp. 


I was super-hot, dripping in sweat, sitting in the car with the engine off and no air conditioning while I waited for the cheetah to come out for a better view which they never did.


There were more people in the camp than I cared to be around at the time, so I hurried to get a couple of cold bottles of water, use the bathroom and off I went. I stopped along the way to my camp for a zebra and her foal and several sightings of beautiful birds.  I spotted a young eagle perched on the bend of a branch and sat watching him for a while.  I glanced down at the dashboard of the car to see what time it was and saw a big red low gas light on and I gasped.

"Oh my God," I said out loud.  "I forgot to get gas."  How could I have forgotten to get gas?


My immediate questions were, where was I and was I closer to the camp I was headed toward or to the one I had left.  I pulled the car off the road a bit and got out my map, but I couldn't tell exactly where I was since there were no cross streets or signs within sight.  I was on a two-lane tarred road in the middle of the bush; that was what I knew for sure.


I had stopped many times over bridges and at sightings so how long I had been driving was not a good indication of how far I had driven.  I remember feeling completely intense and super serious about making a good decision then remembered a cross road not too far back.  A friend used to tell me, better the known than the unknown.  So, I turned around and drove believing all I had heard that if you roll up the windows and turn off the air and radio and any ancillary power usage your gas will last longer. 


I came to the crossroad, found it on my map then decided it was closer to go back to the camp I had left, so I kept driving a steady pace at the speed limit.  I was so tense my fingers started tingling from holding the steering wheel in a death grip.  I was sweating profusely.


When I finally reached the gates of the camp forty-five very long minutes later, I felt myself take a life giving breath then I smiled and shook my head. 


I pulled my camera from the passenger seat and took this photo.  I guess I wanted to remind myself each time I looked at my pictures to chill into the days, take in each moment and do be comfortable but not careless.


I won't let that happen again. But I am sure I will again do something stupid which I am also sure you will read about it in a future blog....

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