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It's Beautiful.

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It’s beautiful.
I feel like something so pretty should be surrounded by hordes of tourists, each trundling along suitcases and heaving screeching children. I feel as if something ought to ruin this because it’s absolutely perfect. But it’s just me. Alone, standing on a platform covering water pipes, that stretches at least two metres into the water’s edge, maybe three. It should probably concern me that a single –and old – fence is the only protection from the wilderness, but I’m too engaged by everything going on around me to care. Its five thirty now, and the sun is preparing itself to set. For now the sun still burns defiantly against the blue sky.
A splash to my right takes my attention away from the tiny birds playing above my head and I grab the binoculars, focusing furiously. An eye stares back at me, sunken into a rigid body. A crocodile, making its way across the water. I’ve never seen one up close before, and looking at it, it seems more jagged and sharp than I imagined. I follow the journey he makes. Where will he go? The sandy banks forming a central island? Or one of the sloping river banks? A sweep with the binoculars answers my questions. How many are lying there? I count 17 at first, but surely hundreds must lurk beneath the surface. A suspicious log rising out of no-where confirms my thoughts.
Scattered across the water, rising up through the ripples caused by the breeze are broken trees, twisted, almost crippled in the rapidly fading light. Their black branches reach out hopelessly, straining for the leaves that will never grow. Anywhere else these trees would seem ugly, but here, reflecting shakily on the water’s surface their rough edges are smoothed, and besides, they fit in amongst the sinister-looking crocodiles rather well. Loud snorting comes from behind a bush to my left, behind a moss covered rock protruding from beneath. I jump out of my skin. This is, after all, snake territory; any rash movement causes panic to bubble up inside of me. The snorting belongs to a hippo. In the distance I can see two more, basking in the mud and what’s left of the sunlight. They’re directly opposite me, and, using my binoculars, I can make out their faces. One lifts its head and watches me lazily before putting it back down, probably deciding it’s too much effort to hold eye contact. On the central island Egyptian geese are making a racket, carelessly squawking and honking at the crocodiles lying idly nearby.
The peace here is unbelievable, even with the geese. I pause and lower the camera, giving it a rest from snapping photos that I love taking. All I can hear is the slow trickle of water with the occasional splash, birds flitting from tree to tree and the orchestra of crickets chirping, warming up for tonight’s symphony. Even the geese have quietened down, allowing me my moment of serenity.
The sun is orange and hazy now, fizzling out as it dips into the trees. Shadowy water reflects its beauty, with shades of orange snaking its way across as sneakily as the crocodiles. The horizon is blazing with summer colours one moment, and, as the tip of the sun disappears it suddenly changes into softer colours of pink and baby blue.
The day is gone, and it willingly slips into night, welcoming the cool air. I feel I should head indoors as the stars come out but it’s as if I’m glued here by an invisible force. There are more stars here than I’ve ever seen before, and darkness pounces quickly, camouflaging night’s creatures. The faint sounds of day are fading; the birds nestling in for the night, and seemingly all is calm. Huge splashes indicate that the hippos are awake - their noise shattering the brief lull in the animal's chatter that had just been.
I take a deep breath, savouring the time I have here. Gathering my things back together – binoculars, camera and bottled water – I tear my eyes away from my perfect lookout. It’s time to go back, before the dark envelopes me completely. Clambering over the rocks that lead towards civilisation, I stop and look back.
Darkness, and if I squint, a crocodiles eye glinting at me as if to say goodnight. I drink it all in before turning to go indoors. Who knows what tomorrow will bring; all I know, is that it’s beautiful.



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