Competition: Literally Lost: 48
Sunday 06 September 1998
a) where is the action taking place?
b) who is the author?
Blackwell's Bookshops will give pounds 30 worth of book-tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.
"You drive this morning, Joshua."
"Better later, Memsaab," Joshua said and nipped smartly into the passenger seat.
The mornings were always easier no matter what the road because the daylight- distance phobia hadn't engulfed me. We made the 44 miles to Nakuru in two hours, quick work, and I stopped for petrol. Petrol stations were infrequent. Whenever I saw one, I behaved as if I had come on an oasis in the desert and drew in to replenish the tank and check the oil and water and tyre pressure, though we carried two jerry cans of petrol and one of water. Joshua sat and watched while I jumped out to make sure the air gauge was properly read, the oil gauge properly wiped and inserted and inspected, the petrol actually filling the tank.
"Really, Joshua," I said crossly, "You could take care of this."
"Better you, Memsaab. These boys obey you more."
The African Ranger at the gate of Lake Makuru Park warned me about water- logged side tracks. It would be wiser to leave the Landrover on the main track and walk to the shore. After driving far enough to feel alone in darkest Africa and therefore ecstatic, I parked the Landrover on a reliable piece of stubble-covered ground, got my kit together, sandwiches, thermos of cold tea, Field Guide to the National Parks, binoculars and said, "Ready, Joshua?"
Joshua stared at the squashy track and wrinkled his nose. "Very bad mud."
"Are you coming or not?"
"Memsaab, they got lions?"
"No," I said with authority, having read the Field Guide which stated that lions were rare hereabouts.
"I watch the car. Some man could come stealing your clothes."
I much preferred to be by myself but thought it would be an awful bind if we had to circle East Africa without getting Joshua's fancy footwear dirty.
The trees here were yellow acacia, fever trees, very tall with bright yellow trunks and branches and small feathery jade green leaves. I squelched along quietly and two of the tiniest antelopes, not much larger than rabbits, leaped across the track. They were reddish with diminutive horns and butterfly ears and I hoped I could remember them long enough to look them up. The advantages of an experienced African safari driver were all too apparent; such a man would know everything, explain what the animals were doing, and have no anxiety about his shoes. .
Literally Lost 47: The book was A New Voyage Round the World by William Dampier. The location was the Galapagos Islands. The winner is Ian Chambers, Hants.
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