The Hippo Story - A true (and slightly long winded) story....

Posted on 25/04/2020 by Mandy Richards

The Hippo Story - A true (and slightly long winded) story....

If you have been on tour with John then there is a good chance that during one of your post ride rehydration sessions you may have heard the "Hippo Story". So by popular demand here it is in its reduced form......

Righto, flashback to 2004. We are on tour in Uganda, camping at one of our favourite spots on the shores of Lake Mburo. Picture an idyllic lakeside camping spot, rolling grass gently sloping down to the lakeshore, the sun setting in the distant hills, blue breasted kingfishers swooping in to nest for the night and the gentle dulcet tones of hippo's grunting as the moon slowly rises. Ahhh the serenity!!

 

We had camped in this spot many times over the years and one of the highlights is the hippos coming out to graze on the grass near the camp during the night. All safe and good as long as everyone keeps their distance and a single hippo grazing near your tent can sound like a whole herd of cows grazing in a paddock .

 

Now on a bit of a side note, (very relevant I might add)  it's a little known fact that I am actually the world champion "campfire chocolate cake cooker". This has been voted on unanimously by all of you who have experienced the delicate flavours and sublime texture of these cakes, but for some strange reason I have not yet received the promised award in the post.....  

 

Anyway, I digress... back to this particular evening back in 2004, camped by the shores of Lake Mburo: dinner had been eaten, beer had been consumed in the sunset and yes, campfire chocolate cake had been cooked and devoured and happy bikers were heading to their tents. Being the lazy bastard that I am, I decided to leave cleaning the cake pot until the morning and poked it just under the back of our bus as we clambered up to sleep in our penthouse roof tent.

 

Drifting off to sleep to the gentle scrunching sound of hippos grazing on the grass nearby we were rudely awoken by an enormous thump on the side of the bus. Shining the torch over the side we saw this huge bull hippo, with absolutely no guilt on his face, licking the bowl of our chocolate cake.  He just looked up at us as if to say "what are you looking at?" ... and kept licking...  Finally he looked up at us again (I'm sure he winked..) and ambled away... directly towards the tent of two Escape Bikers!. 

 

So being the brave tour leader that I am... (and to avoid actually any personal harm) from our rooftop perch we shone the torch beam on their tent so that the hippo would see it and veer away....... ahhh but no.... he kind of went straight on to inspect the tent.....

 

I don't think I've ever held my breathe so long, nor hoped that the guys in the tent wouldn't wake up and frighten the hippo while he went past. However he didn't go past, this great ambling 1500kg hippo paused as he approached the tent, then slowly leaned in towards the tent....., sniffed....., and tickled his nose on the mosquito netting....what followed was an almighty, snotty, giant hippo SNEEZE!!  Then with a shake of his head he wandered off to continue his nightly graze. 

 

Meanwhile the couple in the tent slept on and had no idea about their nocturnal visitor.  In the morning I had a great story to tell over breakfast.  Some rolled their eyes, some said "whatever John!... and yesterday's hill was undulating".  But a river of thick slimy hippo snot down the front of the tent and the vast amounts of half chewed grass and lumps of hippo cud in the cake pot revealed that Tour Leaders always tell the truth!