LIFE, LAUGHTER AND THE SEARCH FOR MEANING IN THE LAND OF A THOUSAND HILLS.
The Moment Begins Now.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The Masaii Mara
Looking back now, I realize the vacation actually began in Masaii Mara, a world renowned National Park spanning 1510 square kilometers west of the capital city of Nairobi in Kenya. Here we did what everyone dreams, thinks, imagines of doing when they visit Africa... go on a safari.
Our excursion into the wild existed in a haze of two nights and three days, with three long game rides occuring either with the sun rising at our backs, or falling at our feets. We held no qualms about stereotypes and loudly sang The Lion King theme so many times to the same giggling effect. As we learned though, in the wild, it's not all singing and stampedes.
Animals don't come out to greet you; you have to work for it, using an old and long forgotten method of searching for the beasts in the tall grass, amidst the silence and through the haze of the heat. There were plenty of times where you could feel a large presence, but not be able to see it. The most unsettling part was knowing that whatever you were looking for was watching every move you made.
The lion we saw was in fact, scary. Immense, intimidating and strangely cat-like, he didn't like the plethora of jeeps that lined up to get a glimpse. As an overambitious man in an open-topped jeep found out, still a threatening beast. He growled, a dark, deep growl from the bowels of his lungs and tensed his already compact body into an efficient killing machine. It wasn't so much he changed positions as much as he compacted himself and flexed, making him smaller but far more deadly. We drove away and I didn't look back, the incident leaving my spine to instantly shiver at the lion's capabilities.
We spotted a rare black rhino on the distance and chased it down along the potholed filled off-road track, almost feeling the tremor it's thundering jog was creating as he ambled away from us. Elephants meandered in a large pack, looking like old, thunderous men in dark grey, crinkled suits.
The environment always competed with the wildlife for bragging rights, as at the end of the game drives, the clouds would augment and reshape their essence to form different configurations, while the surrounding clear air would form blues and purples of the most magnificent hues.
The sun, would battle for last rites dodging, shifting and shimmering into the night, leaving a long, lasting light for some time after it disappeaered below the horizon, lending a backdrop to the sky's everychanging and darkening palette.
The safari was an assault on the scenes, treating us to the visual delight of nature and wildlife in their natural, incredible setting. As we retreated to the camp for our last night on the reserve, we came across a lone Girraffe ambling out toward the arching sunset, as if knowing that we would forever remember the moment as he began his adventure towards the shimmering horizon.
From April until September, I will be living, working, fumbling, and laughing in the bustling city of Kigali, Rwanda. My work will be at the Kigali Health Institute as a Nursing Professor and Clinical Instructor. East Africa is an exciting and strange new land to me undoubedtly filled with challenges, mistakes and adventure. This experience may just change everything. This is the journey.