Greetings and salutations,
Talking about the non-tourist type, there are those who are here to inform tourists, and there are non tourists who think they know everything. Recently, I had a Japanese film crew here over the weekend: a company that is solely dedicated to filming and producing documentaries about World Heritage Sites. As you may be aware, the crew is one thing, and the equipment is another issue. Traveling on an international flight must be quite a challenge for them, what with loads filming checklists, and to check the 'checks and balances' and all must be in place, and will be payable by cheque. Methinks you would need to be a Czechoslovakian to cope with all the cheque and checklist co-ordination. Anyway, the film crew arrived, having reserved a whole Unimog in advance for their narcissistic video-making venture. Prior to departure there was much fiddling with cameras and equipment. Since night drives usually depart at 20h00, I arranged this one for 19h00, just to guarantee we would depart at a sensible time and return before sunrise. In theory - all good.
In the process of loading the Unimog, one of the crew mounted a large spotlight on the roof of the vehicle. For a moment I thought it was an re-enactment of Pearl Harbour. So I listened for the gentle hum of aircraft in the distance, but only the sweet melody of painted reed frogs was apparent. After seeing the numerous cable ties and duct tape going into mounting this spotlight, and the impractical position they selected, I warned the camera crew that this positioning of the light would not work for two reasons. Firstly, operating the spotlight would be impossible, as the operator would have sit on the canvas roof or hang over the side of the vehicle. Neither of these positions would have looked good on the medical claims form or make for the smooth functioning of a spotlight. They however, persisted. I even suggested an alternative position where the spotlight operator could sit under the roof, in a position behind the light, for ease of operation. Nothing doing. Okay. After a good interrogation from the producer and director as to what we would see on our nocturnal excursion, we headed off to the best hippo grazing sites in St. Lucia, the first being located near the Ski boat Club. So, fully loaded with confidence, an armoury of information and camera equipment, we set off. Seconds into our journey, it came to a very abrupt and sudden HALT.
Barely 200m from our departure point, a tree changed our confidence level from ten to nearly zero. A tree that most folk would not normally see as a threat or hindrance, managed by its mere presence to decapitate the precious spotlight. Bearing in mind that a Mog is three meters high at the back, and the lowest branch of this tree was three meters above the ground; and their spotlight was three and a half meters above this total, the combination of measurements was a disaster waiting to happen. Within a moment this tree had removed and catapulted the light off the top of the Mog, dismantling the duct tape and cable ties, and sending a rather expensive spot light through the air on a silent nocturnal flight path to meet Mr Macadam. Clattering metal, popping glass with a final tinkling sound suggested that this spotlight had met a rather dramatic end, and now lay in it's final resting place.The spotlight ended up twenty meters behind the vehicle, in the middle of the road, looking like a wounded lamppost. The Japanese film crew said an assortment of uncomplimentary things. Some were said in haste and others with deep emphasis and passion. I never understood a word. Maybe under hypnotherapy I would be able to repeat the words, but a Japanese hypnotherapist may not have appreciated what was said about the truant spotlight that night.
After recovering a really sad-looking spot light, I felt it had suffered the revenge of some mysterious arboreal attack plan. We continued our not so merry way. The vestiges of the spotlight bracket, cables and duct tape were removed by the crew, not unlike undertakers clearing a funeral site. It was lowered like a dead favourite pet into the back of the mog, with all the due silence for a dead loyal pet.
If there was ever a session of good photography to be had, we had it. The main purpose of the evening was to get grazing hippo, and that is what we did. The second, third and fourth request from them was no different from the first. A full house. The first was a hippo walking past a 'hippo and croc' hazard sign. This was followed by two baby hippos grazing next to the Mog; and finally a large male hippo nonchalantly grazing in the open. Again right next to us. You could even see his four-toed feet and big black toe nails. Fortunately the spotlight saga was buried in the success of our evening, and the film crew and I returned to Hornbill House in high spirits, after recording some very unique wild life moments.
Hast a la vista
The Knait Whrydah