Fitness maintenance was interrupted by swimming pool maintenance this week. You can’t walk anywhere in the National Park without an armed ZAWA guard to protect you. The lodge car park is relatively safe, but we do get regular visits from Walter the (tame) Warthog, who grazes on the lush grass lawns. Hippos and hyenas are a problem, too, but mainly at night. When the lemon tree behind the staff quarters is in fruit, the elephants come to feed and usually take a short cut across the lawn.
Jogging is out of the question. As a previous valley doctor, Andy Sharp, told me, “Anything that runs is considered food.”
So I was pottering about up and down the 10 metre kidney shaped pool for twenty minutes each day, trying to keep fit. Push off from the wall, five strokes and you are at the other side. Each morning, the staff would fish out the frogs and other unwelcome users of the pool. One morning, I counted 40 frogs in the pool, desperately looking for somewhere damp to bed down for the winter. Early in the mornings, I would frequently see baboons coming down to drink the pool water. The staff would clean the floor and walls, to remove any algae and check the chlorination, so it was pleasant and safe to swim.
The walls of the pool are blue, but the paint has flaked off in parts, making it look shabby. As there are very few tourists at the end of the rains, this is the best time for the annual pool renovation programme. Marisa was dispatched to Lusaka to buy special pool paint and the staff syphoned off 10,000 litres of water into the dried mud of the lagoon.
It took more than a day to empty the pool. The water draining into the lagoon formed a new set of streams and pools, which attracted interested animals. Puku and impala came to drink, even though it was chlorinated. A stream connected to the main rivulet in the lagoon and this provided great fishing for a hamerkop.
The family who allowed me to accompany them on their game drive on Sunday left yesterday morning. I got up at dawn to chat and say goodbye to John, a semi-retired GP. We watched the sunrise on the pool deck.
He said, “There have been lots of baboons visiting the pool this morning, probably wondering what happened to the water. The way they have been fornicating by the pool reminded me of Benidorm. Actually, they have been switching partners, too. Even more like Benidorm.”