7 am local time, our neighbors. Julia Hubbel

A crappy excuse for not publishing more.

OKAY no it’s not.

Look, I dunno about your neighbors. For a short while, mine are hyenas, lions, jackals, rhinos…you get it. So you don’t mind if I share a fun story, which is little more than a lousy excuse for why I didn’t take more time to get caught up. Normally when I’m home, I punch out at least one or more articles a day.

For the last week, my uber-dependable Chromebook developed a seriously bad, and ultimately unfixable hiccup. Three keys didn’t work, the w, the s and the @, which anyone can tell you rather cripples a writer. It took three days before we could locate a wireless keyboard, then the dongle went missing (it fell into a hiking boot, you cannot make this stuff up), and the keyboard is for African typists, which means that in no way can I whirl along at 140 wpm. So. It’s been a minute. However, all that is handle-able, because once I set up the picnic table to look like a Best Buy aisle, I was back in business. Usually, natch, right before the internet went off for the night.

Oh well.

Here, well. It’s not just that our internet is only on for a few hours, and that I wake up and work three hours before it comes on, and that our Range Rover is ready before we are, and Emmanuel tosses all of us in for a fast drive before I can barely punch out a single paragraph. Today is my last day at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and we began with a bang. THIS is my real excuse.

I am too busy living to be writing.

As one of my commenters said to me this morning, she could feel my innards untwisting, and boy was she spot on. I’ll get into that later but first, today’s lousy excuse for not getting caught up.

I ate the whole thing Julia Hubbel

We were supposed to start out by horse riding, which I was so ready for given my extraordinary time last year. However as we were wrapping up breakfast in the early dawn, which rises blood-red every day above the nearby acacia trees, Emmanuel got a call.

An adult male lion was spotted with a carcass. We had just minutes to make it before the pride might disperse, and others would be arriving. Time to go.


In seconds I had thrown my Best Buy gear mess onto the desk in my tiny room, threw on my camo backpack and leapt into the Rover. I stand, and given the fact that we can put the top up for viewing, get the cold wind and the smell of carrion right in the face.

Emmanuel followed the main road and then took a dogleg into some low trees. Our Rovers go right over smaller trees, and up and through the dense, thick wallowing pools that the rhinos and Cape buffalo inhabit. While I know how to stand with my knees bent to accommodate the sometimes radical slewing back and forth of the Rover, I still sport a bevy of bright blue bruises from where I leaned left and the Rover leaned right.

Elderly lion. Julia Hubbel

The grand old man, eight years old and already past his prime, was lying near the carcass, which we could smell in all directions. The rest of the pride, two adolescent males who stared at us balefully from where they lay in the morning cool, two lionesses and another, likely the next dominant male of seven years were nearby. We angled for better shots. The lions largely ignored us or stalked off in annoyance.

These, or a pride like them, are whose roars I hear when I wake up. These are my neighbors. The money I spend to be here protects them. The price they pay to live is tolerating our invasion of their breakfast or dinnertimes.

This is why “she don’t write,” as foul Timmons said in Dances with Wolves.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Amboseli national park, Kenya.
Photo by Sergey Pesterev / Unsplash