I remember the first time I saw Andre. He was standing holding a cup of tea staring into the bush. I was still groggy from a nap which I overslept, but anxious to shake the hand of the person who would guide me through the bush and walk with me through Africa. As I shook his hand his presence felt holy. There had been a long anticipation for this meeting and it was finally here. I presented him with the fly rod that I brought with me from the states. He was shocked at such a generous gift, and his gratitude was beyond any words. I had no idea what the value meant to him, and what a tremendous gift it truly was. From that moment on.... we were the same.
That evening we went on game drive together. He spoke softly and with conviction; a passionate man with a purpose. As others chatted noisily, we were both lost in the presence of the bush, every noise, every sound. Andre sat behind me in the vehicle and guided me along, not missing a bird, animal or plant of importance. He said we will have a great surprise this evening.
Driving through the bush the sun was beginning to set. The vehicle became quiet as we watched for animals and birds. Etienne was on the vehicle radio talking in his Shangaan language, and Andre grabbed my arm and said you are going to see something fascinating. I looked around but saw nothing except the stillness of the bush. As we drove over the hilltop it was only then that I saw them. Etienne quickly killed the engine. As we sat there one by one they ran down the hill panting and looking nervously in every direction. In and out of the thick bush they ran searching...they were hungry. I counted almost 20 including the pups as we all sat still and watched them run by. Etienne quickly started the engine, the only sound you could hear as the evening light disappeared. It was time to follow them, they were hunting. We were in the company of dogs.
That night we sat at dinner in the Boma, wrapped in our mohair blankets in front of the fire; listening to Dallas tell his stories of black mambas. We listened quietly knowing the next morning we would be off on foot in the bush, not knowing what would be in store for us.