One morning in 1960 I tripped over a flowerpot at school and cut my leg. Mr. Metcalf, the headmaster took me to the old hospital overlooking English Point where I was stitched up. On the way there he seemed more interested in his carpets than my gaping wound because he told me to make sure I didn't drip any blood in his car. A few days later these stitches became infected and for a week I had an intense fever and hallucinated every night. This was because my mother distrusted all doctors, although eventually she called one in and he immediately pumped me full of penicillin. While recovering in bed I discovered that I enjoyed drawing and that I was able to visualize compositions as though they were real. I filled several sketchbooks with drawings of dhows, mosques, palm trees and the buildings I could see from my bedroom window. A few weeks later when I was fully recovered and back at school my mother hired a car and we traveled to Tsavo East National Park for a holiday. A classmate had breathlessly told me about his safari to Tsavo. "The front fender of my dad's car was completely ripped off by a charging rhino," he declared. "Great," I thought. "I want that also!" Also, the father of another of my classmates had recently been killed by a buffalo while walking along the Galana River just outside Tsavo East. This tragedy caused a sensation at school. Primed with lurid tales such as these I could hardly wait to get there.
We stayed at Mac's Inn which was just a short distance from the entrance to the Park. Even though my mother preferred the sociable atmosphere of this hotel, especially the bar which was always full of travelers on their way to Nairobi, on all our following weekend safaris to Tsavo I insisted that we stay at the new self-service bandas which had just been built at Aruba Dam and on the Tsavo River at Kitani. I preferred them because they were deep inside Tsavo and well away from the main road. On this first trip we didn't see much wildlife because we were not practiced in spotting animals. Black rhino were so common we hardly ever stopped to look at them! In fact I would earnestly pray that we would not come across rhino on game drives because it was tricky getting past them if they were close to the track! At the time I did not understand the significance of this modest weekend safari - but this was where it all began for me as an artist! I had decided to bring along my sketchbook and several pencils. While we were there I did several, crude, pencil drawings of the wildlife I saw on that trip - one of which I still have. Tsavo, 1960, was my ground zero for a possible future career as an artist!
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