Cwmbale Ecolodge

17 August 2023

I got out of bed this morning and my right foot made contact with something that was firm but not stone hard. It yielded to my weight and I jumped up and ran across the room on tip toes not wanting my foot to land on it even as a grateful thought flashed through my mind that at least it was squishy squashy. I heard the shrill cry of what sounded like a bird and next I had jumped on the wooden armchair that was by the wardrobe, that one that has cushions covered with African cloth featuring elephants. Immediately I heard the shrill cry again, near me, almost at my ear, as though the creature, whatever it was had also had the same idea and flown to the armchair. This time it sounded like the sharp cry of a cricket. I jumped down and ran to the door and tried to open it. It was locked. I grabbed the key from the table and opened the door. I let in the fresh morning air of the Masaba mountain, cool and comforting. It was still too dark to see the waterfalls and draw comfort from it. But I could hear it and it calmed me somewhat. It was just a bird, I thought. At least it was not the slug I found in the shower room the other day, its tentacles pointing menacingly at me. If I could turn on the light, I could see what it was. I felt the wall near the door – there was no switch near me. I would have to cross the room again toward the bathroom light. I did that and turned it on. There was nothing on the floor where I had stepped. I went to the lights above the bed and switched it on, looked around the room, under the chair, up at the grass-thatched roof but couldn’t see anything. There was no ceiling under the roof, it was open to any smart creature to creep into the room at night and cuddle down on the floor next to my bed.  Wild animals peering at you through the windows. By now my foot was aching with pain. I could not take a straight step. The thought occurred to me that I had sprained a muscle. I opened my yoga mat and sat down to massage it, as I contemplated the full meaning of eco-tourism, trying to appreciate it, my morning meditation forgotten. I remembered that packed somewhere in my washbag was strip of paracetamol. I took two and swallowed it with water as I thought about what I would tell the waiters when they saw me limping. I couldn’t say I was jumping or hoping away from a bird or cricket in my room. I thought of ordering room service but dismissed it as not echo-friendly. I decided I’d give it a few moments to see if the burning pain cooled down, then I’d try and walk straight to breakfast.

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