I’m a pretty good present giver, I must say. It’s a gift.
(pun unapologetically intended)
I think it stems from enjoying wandering around the internet reading lists of pretty things. Occasionally I buy the pretty things and I give them to the pretty people in my life.
But at Christmas I was torn because pretty things take up space and the one thing you don’t have when you pack your life in a suitcase* and move across the world? Space.
So I decided instead that the main part of the present to my best girl would be an experience – we’d go and hang out with a cheetah.
I had thought you would be shuffled into a pen or holding area and the keepers would bring a cheetah in on a leash and perhaps you’d get to pat it and take a photo or two and then that’d be about it and oh I just the most wrong you can be.
You sit on a log and the keepers spread a hessian sack out in front of you, they open a gate and the cheetahs lope on in. They settle themselves right in front of you. They might just choose to sit on your feet.
You’re told to make no sudden movements. You do not make any sudden movements. There’s something instinctive, inherent that happens and when he yawned with his long long teeth ever so close to my tiny defenceless ankle? I was not making any sudden movements.
There are three keepers, four other people, and two cheetahs. One keeper for each cheetah and an extra for good luck.
The keepers tell you all about cheetahs** and about conservation and answer questions while you get to pat pat pat at the cheetahs. Their spots are ever-so-slightly softer than the rest of their fur.
The third keeper also takes the camera and takes photos for you. It’s the best thing.
At one point the cheetah at our feet stretched and turned over towards us. Just like a cat. Only much much bigger.
Oh and my girlfriend? She loved it. Her smile alone was worth it. Worth anything. Priceless.
* 79 days! We leave in 79 days. Good graish.
** Did you know it’s a bone that makes cats purr? The cats who have it can purr but not roar and those that don’t can roar but not purr. Cheetahs have it. They purr so loud.