Surviving a Safari by Pam Munter

Our first day on safari in Africa: my partner and I were alone in a four-wheel drive jeep with a Kenyan guide, our first game drive in the desolate savannah – alone, that is, except for the lions, cheetahs, hyenas and unspecified predators. Before this, the closest I had been to a desert was vacationing in Palm Springs. It was the traditional feeding time, an apparently exciting time for bloodthirsty tourists. As the sun went down over the mountain, the guide was anxious to show us the latest kill, a pride of nine lions feasting on a giraffe. I was nauseated, eager to return to the primitive tent where I felt safer. But as the guide accelerated away from the grizzly scene, the car got stuck in the sand. No amount of acceleration could propel the car. The guide turned to us in the back and politely suggested we get out so we could help extricate the jeep. I stifled a hollow laugh. He expected a group effort, while I saw it as a likely lion banquet. I wordlessly stared back. Somehow, he moved it by himself.

The mood lightened as we headed back to camp on the nearly invisible sand path that served as a road. Then, without so much as a cloud overhead, it began to rain buckets. The orange sky around us dropped like a dark curtain as the water level rose alarmingly fast. The jeep engine repeatedly flooded and stalled. Our guide unscrewed a rusty panel on below the dashboard, blew on the distributor cap, and off we’d go for another hundred yards. With the rising water rushing past us and the windows fogging up, I wondered what predators might be patiently lurking. Almost two hours later, we limped into camp for dinner, a hundred yards at a time. My partner was exhilarated by the experience. I was happy to be alive, relieved to be able to eat and not be eaten.

BIO: PAM MUNTER  Her essays and short stories have been published in The Rumpus, Matador Review, The Manifest-Station, Litro, The Coachella Review, Lady Literary Review, The Creative Truth, Adelaide, Canyon Voices, Open Thought Vortex, Fourth and Sycamore, Nixes Mate, Scarlet Leaf Review, Cold Creek Review, Communicators League, Switchback, The Legendary, Scarlet Leaf, Down in the Dirt and others. Her play Life Without was a semi-finalist in the Ebell of Los Angeles Playwriting Competition and has been nominated for the Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original Writing, along with a nomination for Best Play (staged reading). She has an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California at Riverside/Palm Desert. She has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.