The land rover stopped suddenly, sending all of us standing crashing into the metal sides of the raised roof. We were conducting large mammal count transects in Tarangire National Park. It was hot, we were sweating, and now we were a bit bruised – nothing new, really.
“Pole!” Our driver yelled from the front seat – Sorry! “Look, francolins!” We all leaned over the top of the car to get a good look at the road in front. Crossing the road were three little chicken like birds.
“Yellow necked francolins!” My professor corrected enthusiastically.
“They look like Patridges,” I exclaimed, “Or like grouse!”
“Yes, like grouse!” My professor confirmed. Then he giggled, “Yum!”
He raised his eyes at us and said in a loud whisper, “We used to hunt them! They’re delicious!” Our driver laughed in agreement.
“We hunt something like them at home,” I said, “very delicious!” The birds crossed the road and I slid back down into my seat.
Our driver and professor started straight into a kiswahili conversation as the car pulled forward again. As we drove I listened intently to their conversation trying to pull out words I recognized – a game I often played with myself around the staff. Apparently I wasn’t the only one – a friend turned to me suddenly, “Did they just say whiskey?”
My professor swung around in his seat, “Whiskey? Do you know whiskey?”
My friend and I looked at each other with smirks, “Um… yes, we know whiskey.”
His face lit up, “We used to soak rice in whiskey, you know, overnight. They we would sprinkle it out,” he used his hands animatedly to imitate the act. “Then,” he said dramatically, his eyes widening, “They would eat it!”
“And get drunk!” Our driver chimed in.
They both did awkward comic impressions of drunk francolins stumbling around and my professor asserted, “then we would catch them, for fun!”
“Yum,” our driver smirked with a wink.