Petronella Wyatt

A walk on the wild side

The ongoing escapades of London's answer to Ally McBeal

As I wrote last week, there I was in the middle of the South African bush wrapped in a blanket to stave off the cold. Karl, the strapping ranger, had staved off the animals, but there seemed no remission from the biting air. On our way back to the lodge, we saw some rhino immersed in a pool – perhaps in the hope that the water was warmer. Their deep-pink underbellies were about the shade of my freezing hands.

The following morning, however, the weather let up. I woke to skies the colour of Anatolian waters. The sun was beating down on the copper earth. At last, I said to myself, time for a bit of relaxation by the swimming-pool. So I grabbed my bikini and made my way up to where the pool was located. It was one of those constructions where the water slops over the edge in a pleasantly soporific manner.

I lay on a sunbed, lathered myself in cream and dozed off. It must have been half an hour later when I woke up and saw something sitting beside me. It was big and brown, but it wasn’t one of the rangers. No, it was a huge and rather sulky-looking baboon.

I thought if I lay very still the baboon might go away. It didn’t. Then, to my mounting horror, I realised it was making its way towards my raffia bag, containing all my valuables. It picked the bag up and began examining the contents. One hairy hand extracted a hair-clip. This was turned over, examined and then discarded in disgust. Next, it reached inside and brought out a bottle of suntan cream. This, too, was chucked unceremoniously into the bushes. It would only be a matter of seconds, however, before it found my passport and all my Rand.

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