No wildebeest on the south side of the river, thousands of them on the Lamai wedge.
For days they have being coming down to drink and back into the open plains close to the Kenyan border.
South of the mara river was all burnt but slowly a beautiful green flush is growing, it must be an alluring site for the herd on the other side. The kind of view that can making you want to cross, to overcome the fear for the hope of a better meal. The grass is always greener on the other side this time is not only an idiomatic expression, it is a matter of fact.
It is a good day, the sun is shining although veiled by dust and smoke from the thousands of herbivores and far away fires. We can see them, we can see the herds eager to cross but still to afraid, they move towards the east, on the bank looking at the flowing muddy water.
Some come down to drink, some stop an look, they are building up their confidence, they are gaining the courage, adrenaline slowly pumping into their bodies. It is a concert, mothers calling calves, calves calling mothers, males still rutting and asserting their dominance. Everybody kind of playing the same instrument but still a great concert.
In all this chaos the expectations grow, the waiting makes us noticing every slightest change of mood or behavior of the herds.
And there we are, with a big dramatic pause all the wildebeests on the bank freeze looking at the first brave that starts wading into the water with increasing speed.
It is like a landslide, it starts slow but in a fraction of a second what you see is animals moving towards the water, jumping from tall banks, sliding in passages created by other wildebeest in years of crossing, pushing each other in enormous clouds of dust. They cross, thousands of animals in a frenzy without mercy, the current is strong, many manage to pass but the exit gate is small, many other drift away downstream.
It is total confusion, some wildebeest cross back, some keep pouring onto the other shore, some create new crossing lines, upstream and downstream. The struggle to keep the head above water is exhausting, the ones that go under gulp water and die in a matter of few seconds, their body floating down the river and forming temporary dams.
Many drown while others try to climb over the dead bodies to reach the safety of the shore. It becomes so difficult, the dead fight the live ones with their stillness, is sad to watch, it is nature, it is wild.
Slowly after long time the herds thin out, the madness is over, the ones the cross now are more conscious of the right route, the reach the other shore. Maybe ten thousands passed, maybe four hundred died, few ones in the great scheme a lot in a single crossing
Everything seems still now, everything is exhausted, the wildebeest that crossed keep calling, a lot of cows lost their calves and a lot of calves their mothers, the ones on the other side start moving off.
Suddenly we realize we are exhausted as well, the intensity of what happened in front of us, now is a turmoil of emotions inside us
The drama is on, life and death, green grass in your stomach or muddy water in your lungs all part of the same ancient game