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photo by Uryadnikov Sergey

Some people have nightmares about falling off buildings. They wake up in a cold sweat and upon realizing it was only a dream, take a deep breath of air and roll over and go back to sleep.

My nightmares were Hippos. After living in Africa near the Okavango Delta for many years, I have seen my share of damage that the Hippo can do. They aren’t a bit like the cute little stuffed animals you see in the Disney store! More people are killed by the Hippo than any other animal in Africa. The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. When we first moved to Maun, there were regular occurrences of hippo attacks. They used to roam near the river looking for vegetation to eat near where we lived and there were times when they would encounter us humans. Generally speaking, they just attack predators, including people, they don’t eat them since they are herbivores.  Once a man tried to take a stick and chase the menacing hippo out of his yard. The consequences were fatal for the man, and for his friend who tried to save him. After that there were shotgun sounds for a full day near the river where the horrid thing happened. Eventually, the local BDF (military) were able to eliminate the creature. Those are sounds that one doesn’t get over easily.

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At the time, my 2 boys were small. The mothering instincts were at their peak! So, for the longest time, nightmares of my children having encounters with hippos would torment me. Usually, it was a case where I could see the dangerous hippo before my kids could and always, just before the attack, I would wake up with a scream out to the kids to get out of there!! In my dreams they could be anywhere my children were. It was terrifying! When I had our 3rd son, Mason, we were living right on the river during a drought. There were 32 hippos who were scraping by, trying to survive. They would crash down the fences and make their way outside our bedroom to the dying fruit trees and the hippos would graze at night in our yard, standing up on their hind legs to reach the last of the green leaves.

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One night, my mother in law heard something near the long, narrow window in our passageway. She pressed her nose up against the glass to see what it was and to her surprise; she was nose to nose with a giant hippo! She spoke to it and whisked her hand saying, “shoo, shoo!” and it turned and left quietly.

Another time, Andy, our black lab was running next to the river. Barney, the gold lab, was a lot smarter than Andy and kept a safe distance from the river that was teaming with Crocodiles and hippos. Andy decided it was time to play and he went out to the center where the hippos and their calves were congregated. I happened to be looking out the living room window when all of a sudden, I saw Andy jump on the back of one of them! You can read here for the rest of that story! 

My fear of the hippo just got worse as time went on! There came a time when I realized that this was just not healthy. Being so terrified of anything, much less something I had to see every day was too much. Never mind the terrible nightmares I had on an ongoing basis!  I decided it was time to talk to God very seriously about this! I don’t know about you, but I wait way too long sometimes before I think something is “serious enough” to take to God in prayer and ask for His help.  I talked to him just like a child would to his parents pleading to remove this horrible fear from me.

After that, it just became less and less! I don’t like, go swimming with them like Andy did, but I noticed over time, that it just faded away. Until………

This has been day 16 of My 500 Words.   Read day 17 of My 500 Words for the rest of the story!

other pics found on bing.com

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