My mother Shelina Popat worked in the Maasai Mara in tourism as a 22-year-old. One day a VIP guest, a middle-aged woman, arrived from England. She was very eager to see a lion. After her first game drive, the woman went to Shelina and explained that she really wanted to see a lion and she was only staying for three nights. Shelina told the woman not to worry, since lions were frequently seen.

But for some reason the Mara’s lions went on strike that week and by the woman’s last night, she still had not seen a lion. The woman kept complaining how she came all the way from England to see a lion and how disappointed she was. The woman had only one more game drive the next morning. When she came back from her last game drive, she still hadn’t seen a lion. Feeling very dissatisfied, she went back to her tent to prepare to leave for the airstrip.

Shelina drove the woman to the airstrip to drop her off. However, on the way to the airstrip the woman needed to relieve herself. Shelina drove her to a location known for being deserted with no wild animals roaming about. She stopped the car in front of a large bush. The woman got out to go pee, while Shelina waited in the car. A loud scream erupted from behind the bush. The woman appeared, running towards the car with her shorts around her ankles, screaming, “Lion!”

Shelina couldn’t help but laugh. The woman was terrified but also delighted. She finally saw a lion, even though not in the most appropriate circumstances.

Talisa Lanoe, International School of Kenya

This appeared in the Only in Africa section of our June/July 2010 issue