Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tic Tac Sundowners

One safari tradition polished to a high gloss of grace and gentility in Zambia is sundowners, that magical ceremony where everyone stops whatever they're doing at the end of the day, fixes a drink, and watches the sun go down.

Zambezi sunsetIt's fun in a group, because everyone chats and swaps tales of the day's adventures until just that special moment when the sun dips below the horizon. That's also when the sky typically glows red, particularly during the dry season when the air near the ground is lightly hazed with reflective dust. On a really good night, you'll see the moon rising as the sun disappears.

As you can imagine, sundowners can also be a very romantic event when there are just two of you. It's a quiet time for special wishes and quiet reflection.

Or it can be a light-hearted mini-party. One of my most memorable moments in Zambia was near the end of a trip when my wife and I had been paddled out to an island in the Zambezi by our guide Victor in a makoro, or dugout canoe. We got there a little early, so we taught Victor to play tic-tac-toe in the sand while we waited for the sun to go down. By the time we left, he was definitely more than holding his own.

What makes having sundowners such a special ceremony is that it doesn't last much more than a few minutes--usually just long enough to have one drink and a moment of contemplation with boon companions.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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