The real life story behind Unpacking

airplaneConnie landing in the Kalahari with her friends in their private 10-seater plane.



“They hovered politely, clearly no one wanted to be the first to grab the front row of seats. Matt held Katherine’s hand, though she nimbly swung a lean leg up to the step above the wheel and into the front seat. Matt struggled to follow her, grunting heavily as he grabbed frantically at one of the vertical metal bars supporting the tarpaulin roof, before lurching into the seat behind the driver.”


“Ben sat on the metal track- er’s seat out on top of the bonnet.”




“Lions gave purpose and excitement to their first drive.”



namibian_sands“Marked by blood orange Namibian sands.”


entrance“Sara couldn’t think of anything less appealing. She wanted to escape from the outdoorsyness of it all. ”



“Orange stone buildings hid under grass- thatched roofs like Vietnamese farm girls under their conical hats.”



pool“Connie sat dangling her legs in the pool, rocking them rhythmically up and down until her scarlet toes winked out of the water”.


hunter“I’ve got a single shot rifle in there and five extra rounds on me,’ he tapped his belt, which had bullets hanging vertically along the leather strap. ‘Listen, I would never choose an animal’s life over a human life, eh.”


giraffes1“Those giraffes are as silent and self-contained as you, Luke,’Julian nudged him, ‘You’ve finally met your match.”



giraffes2“Luke had been keen to see rhino, lion and buffalo. He had surprised himself with his fasci- nation for these giraffes.”



Torches cast vermillion shadows on the rugs unfurled over the bronze sand. The dark side tables were mesmerising in candlelight. Sofas and throws had been transported here to create an intimate sitting room, but no one sat down. Mile upon mile upon mile of dunes radiated around them to a horizon that was limitless in its reach and possibility. The group was trapped by the weeping beauty of such an openness. They wanted to absorb it and for it to absorb them.

dining_table Luke placed his weight on to a director’s chair. The cream canvas bowed down to compensate for his weakness. He pain- fully stood up and struggled towards the bar. He glanced at the square dining table glistening with the full tableware they had at the lodge. Imagining the human toil involved in transporting this entire dinner party here on to the dunes made his chest tighten again. He slumped back on to his chair.

mongolfiera “Her grandfather wrote about his balloon trip over the Kalahari soon after he bought the hunting lodge. The worn red and plain wicker basket jolting along on the trailer in front of them might have been the one he flew in. It was faded, yet solid. It couldn’t be further from high-performance ballooning. ”

mongolfiera1“Sara stared down. Already the scene was bleaching out, the vehicles were shrinking. Sara had never seen the earth from this perspective. She let out an exhalation, ‘Oh.’ It wasn’t a word, rather a feeling.”


mongolfiera2“The vehicle shrank first, then the acacia trees, before the land itself seemed to separate from them. The horizon elongated, as the ground became less familiar, more lunar. A suggestion of elands came into sight and quickly disappeared. The mountains rose to greet them and then vanished beneath them.”