Absence and Africa
Tomorrow, we are leaving for two weeks in Africa. Just writing that sentence fills me with excitement and joy. We have been to Africa twice before--the first time was for our honeymoon when we went to Tanzania to watch the Migration. The second was a number of years later to visit my daughter who spent a semester at the University of Cape Town. While we were there, we took her and a friend on safari in Botswana. Both experiences were absolutely marvelous. I think I am more thrilled this time because I know, sort of, what to anticipate.
We will be completely off the grid, so there will be no blog until my return on October 3rd. It will be good for me to have this forced break from my email addiction.
Yes, on each of our previous trips, there were a few moments (well, all right, longer than a moment) when I was scared. The first time, I don't think that I slept for two nights. We were in tents, and, although the staff promised us that the animals don't crash into the tents, we could hear large things moving around outside, and I have no faith in the reassurances we had been given. After a couple of nights, I either believed them or succumbed to exhaustion and slept.
The second trip we were out on a game drive one afternoon in the standard jeep without sides. We had parked to watch two female lions preparing to hunt a wart hog that was also in our sight. (note: I learned on these trips that the male lions lie around and wait for the females to do the hunting. what a surprise) One of the lionesses meandered up to the jeep, brushing my husband's knee, and then pausing to lazily scratch her back along the side of the vehicle. She was probably 18 inches from me. The guide very quietly said: "It's fine. Just don't move." You can be sure that I didn't!
I don't know what the scary moments will be this time, but I expect there will be some. I am sure, however, that they will be vastly outnumbered by the moments of wonder. We have seen a zebra being born. We have watched elephants circle their babies. We have seen giraffes mate (they literally "neck" for a long time first). We have watched the rhythms of life as it has been for all time. No favoritism and no malice. Just life.
It is the place where I feel closest to God or nature or the center of life or however you are comfortable thinking about it. The national parks of Africa must be Eden. The stars are a sparkling, very bright canopy of wonder. This is a spiritual journey, and I will live the next two weeks in awe and in thanksgiving.