Do you ever wonder what it's like to wake to the call of lion and the rumble of elephant outside your door? In February, Antonia moved from Bristol, England to the remote African bush to work with Mulberry Mongoose. Here she shares some of her early adventures....
I rose to find a baby scorpion scampering amongst my things on the table. But it was the day after that, my second night in the South Luangwa Valley, when I realised just what an adventure I was in for. I was woken by a bat chirping loudly, I turned on the light to find it was inside my mosquito net with me right beside my pillow. It was such a shock!
Before I arrived I hadn’t known quite what to expect, I’m not sure one can ever imagine life in the bush until one’s in the thick of it. Only a couple of weeks in and there’s been torch lit dinners in the midst of power cuts, one neighbours’s cat to feed, happy sundowners, thunderstorms galore and too many mosquitoes. I’ve met so many friendly faces already, the seasoned residents delighting in regaling me with the dangers of lurking snakes and dramatic tales involving crocodiles and elephant.
The bush certainly demands attention with baboons watching as you eat lunch, hippos noisy and ants marching new routes into the house every day. It is gripping and magic and extraordinary.
On my first weekend I ventured into the national park with a new friend. We saw six lazing lions but then our sundowners on the bonnet of the Landrover was interrupted by an ominous storm moving swiftly our way. We set off home to find that the road back to the park gates was not quite where we thought it was. Slightly lost I could only laugh when a leisurely giraffe in the middle of the road slowed us down. We managed to make it home just as the rain began bucketing down but letting myself in to my little house I found three bats flying round inside, the power out and the roof leaking. So this is life now – my own life less ordinary.
The very best bit so far has been work. Starting a new job is such a leap of faith but how fantastic it has been so far. The Mulberry Mongoose team have welcomed me so warmly and I’ve loved getting to know each of them. I have been kept busy from the off with varied tasks from redesigning shop displays to increasing our efficiency in production.
In just a couples of weeks my life, while now grounded to this remote corner of Zambia, has got so much larger. Is that the beauty of change? Such a change was always going to be a risk yet the way I see it it’s all opportunity and adventure.
I’m ready and excited for all the challenges to come. Turns out that first scorpion was only the beginning, there was one in my clothes this morning and it’s still at large in my bedroom…
Written by Antonia Gillett