Pat’s Safari Jitters

Pat Hemingway's Safari Jitters


Patrick Hemingway Adams

I leave for my first African safari in less than 24 hours.  My head has been on a completely different continent than the rest of my body for at least a week. Everybody always says that the best practice is to try to savor the twitchy, anxious, and excited feeling you get right before a hunting trip, but that is easier said than done.

I’m over here rolling around restlessly like a kid who can’t sleep on the night before Christmas.  Way back when, I would try to channel that nervous energy into something productive-like staging booby traps around the house to catch one of my parents pretending to be Santa Claus.  

All the adults would laugh as my brothers and I taped cute little ribbons across doorways and staged Nerf guns in strategic defensible positions.  After everyone had gone to bed, we’d sneak around placing proper bailing wire trip wires and bamboo kitchen skewer punji stick traps. Luckily, my parents were used to raising rowdy boys, and never did fall victim to our yuletide countermeasures.  

I feel that way again now. Do what you can to stay productive and pass the time. I’ve properly broken in my African hunting boots with dirt, Obenauf’s, and dusky grouse blood. For weeks, I have maintained a minor baseline blood alcohol content to prevent a “gin and tonic” shock to the system. That’s made my day job interesting, but I am aligned with a higher power in the pursuit of something legendary–and we all must make sacrifices.   

I have hiked to the top of mountains to confer with my spiritual advisors. When it comes to ghosts, I prefer the company of thoughtful adventurers like Kipling and Hemingway. While up on high, we watched the ant-sized cars zip around on the highways meandering through my little mountain valley home.  Rudyard tells me that we cannot begrudge the progress of man, as it is inevitable.  Ernesto says “Fuck ‘em.”

My gear is packed, mostly. I ditched the spare pair of hunting boots for an extra knife–then I ditched that, too. Lean and mean baby – the way it should be. I know I packed too many hats, but they’ll likely be replaced with bottles of American-made rum on the final luggage shuffle. Rum is heavy for international travel, but it is quickly converted to air when exposed to campfire stories and the company of men.  

Final stretch now. My nostrils are swabbed and tested. My travel documents are copied in triplicate and dispersed throughout my bags. No customs official is going to stand in the way of my shooting safari destiny, and if he does–I’ve got a twenty-dollar bill with his name on it.