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Evra and Anelka take a talk on the wild side

A talk on the wild side

Highs: A night with Mack and the Beavers
Lows: Border control

I always judge a country by how polite its border control officers are.  United States? Never again! UK? Only when I have to.  Laos? New Zealand? As often as I can.

These officers were certainly polite.  They greeted us with big, white, toothy smiles, took our passports, scrutinized the images, and, in gruff voices, invited us to enjoy their country.  They didn’t need to be rude or officious or authoritarian.  They got respect without demanding it.  The smiles were enough.

I took back my passport and headed towards the arched exit.  Above it, in willow green, was written “You are now entering Narnia.” I looked back.  The wolf who had examined my papers passed a long, pink tongue across his muzzle.  I shuddered.

Evra seemed more comfortable with the whole situation.  She was engaged in banter with the hyena who was checking her passport, then walked towards me, grinning broadly.  I heard a hoot of laughter from the booth behind her.
“Isn’t it marvellous?” she said.

I’ve travelled a lot more than Evra, so I’m less easily impressed.  As far as I was concerned, I was in an airport and airports, even ones staffed by smiling carnivores, don’t excite me.  Once we entered the arrivals lounge however, I began to relax.

We had arranged for transport to our hotel.  I was looking forward to showering and slipping into something more comfortable, like my new Look-in-the-Bag sarong.  Evra tapped me on the shoulder.  “There’s our lift” she said, and pointed to a cardboard sign bearing our names.  It was held by a well-groomed dwarf standing on the back of a rather matronly mare.  He was looking left, and she was looking right

We waved and caught the eye of the dwarf.  He tugged the mare’s ear and she came trotting towards us.  “Welcome to Narnia my dears”, she said, warmly.

“Follow us”, said the dwarf, and they led to the exit.

The ground outside was wet from recent rain.  The air smelled fresh and clean.  Overhead, birds were singing.  Mostly they were singing fairly cheesy pop songs, but from the branches of a nearby tree a blackbird sang the blues.  Beneath it, a peacock waved his tail and sang (very badly) “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”.  

By the time our carriage had conveyed us to our accommodation, I was as wrapped in wonder as Evra.  We had booked into a woodland lodge run by a very affable bear called Mack.  

That trip had so many highlights.  We danced with dryads in a Narnian glade; we stared at star-studded skies with centaurs directing our gaze; and we swam in sapphire seas while dolphins dived for fresh fish that were barbecued to perfection by Telmarine pirates.

The last night was the most unforgettable though.  Mack cracked open a jar of mead and we sat by a river with his friends the beavers.   Then a gang of satyrs arrived and the evening began to get riotous.  After that things are a bit vague.   Evra keeps threatening to post the photos on Facebook.  She tells me that I broke the heart of at least one faun.  
I woke up the next day with a splitting headache and a raging thirst.  I wanted  to stay in bed but forced myself to get up for breakfast so that I could say goodbye to Mack.  He wasn’t around.  I asked the young chimpanzee who served us where he was.  She shook her head.
“Best keep out of his way.  He’s feeling a bit rough and is in a foul mood.  As we Narnians say:  ‘He’s like a human with a hangover’.”