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Don’t worry, ‘bee’ happy

Don’t worry, ‘bee’ happy

Photo for representation. File photo

Stanley Carvalho

ON the eve of our departure from Kenya, we were having lunch at the Mara Sopa Lodge, deep in the wilderness of the Maasai Mara. I was relishing soup when I suddenly felt a needle prick on my palm. So sharp was the pain that I let out a loud ‘ouch’, causing heads to turn. A spoon fell, my wife and kids looked startled, and two waiters rushed towards me. I soon realised I had been stung by a bee.

In the melee, advice came thick and fast. ‘See if the stinger is in’ yelled one. ‘Don’t pull it out with your nails, scrape it away,’ suggested another. ‘Was it a wasp or a bumblebee?’ asked a third one. Strangely, there was no stinger lodged in my skin and the bee was nowhere to be seen. Amid the buzz, the waitress wrapped an ice pack around my palm. ‘You’ll be fine, it happens often here,’ she smiled and helped us move to another table away from the window. I stole a glance around and embarrassingly enough, some people were eyeing me amusingly.

It certainly wasn’t a fitting finale to our holiday and I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why the bee singled me out from so many at the restaurant. Barring this incident, our game drives were an exhilarating experience. From our elevated open-top vehicles, we watched families of lions relaxing and scores of wildebeest grazing. We let a herd of elephants cross our path, enjoyed the sight of rhinos and hippos submerged in a lake, fed giraffes at a park, laughed at warthogs running, admired zebras caressing each other and much more. Of the ‘big five’, only the leopard remained elusive.

We also took in enchanting views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley, slept in tented camps, danced and sang with the Maasai, learnt Swahili words and sampled crocodile and ostrich meat as well as some animal parts that are discomfiting to mention.

The safari taught us a few things — about the giraffe’s long tongue and the way it walks, the zebra’s stripes, the reproduction and behaviour of elephants and gazelles and the wildebeest migration. Equally, it was about survival skills, living peacefully and in harmony with nature and fellow creatures.

The Maasai inspired us with their simple lifestyle, making do with whatever is available around them and yet living with dignity, unity and contentment. A timely lesson came from a group of Kenyan singers, who entertained us with songs about the environment. But the most important message I took home was the oft-repeated Swahili phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’, which taught me to be happy and forget all my worries for the rest of the days, including my first bee sting.

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