Tuesday, January 17, 2012

African Skies

"Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, and I thought to myself, where the heck in the ceiling!" 

The incurable romantic in me can't stop being in awe of the African skies, so I decided that they deserve an entire blog post, even though it's hard to capture this in words. There have been many times in my life where I've looked up to a brilliant sky filled with stars---in the Rocky Mountains, North Carolina, and in Peru where I first saw the Southern Cross. The sun setting off the coast of California and west Florida, or behind the amazing Himalayas is equally as amazing as the stars, yet nothing seems to compare with the skies of Africa.  Being on safari in Zambia over a year ago, I asked someone if it was my imagination, or if the skies here seem vastly different than anywhere else. The man instantly agreed with my perception, trying to explain it away with how the unspoiled endless plains are giving it that feel. No matter, it really doesn't need an explanation, it's simply magnificant, magical, mystical!  

Each night as I clean up in the kitchen, through the window,  I watch the sun go down amidst the trees, with one lone tall tree that somehow makes it's own statement of pure beauty. Night after night, I am amazed of the colors that light up the sky—night after night, it never looks the same, even though that one tree remains the same---night after night, it never ceases to stop me dead in my tracks. The sky then darkens, giving way to the Southern Cross and a million of it's brothers and sister stars. Some nights I look out to see a part of the sky looking as white as a glass of milk, hence the milky way I guess, and other nights, each star in this huge galaxy is clearly visible and radiates in a glow that seems to brighten the entire village, leaving distant reminders of the tech world that seems so irrelevant when you contemplate the universe.  The stars seem close enough to touch them at times, and when the moon takes it's many shapes throughout the month, it seems to have it's own relationship with the stars. When the moon is full, the stars disappear, and it's the one night that it's the moons turn to shine and stand alone.

During the day, especially on safari, the unspoiled plains show the rays of sun all day long. It's incredible! Ok, is everyone reading this ready to come check it out, or at least put it on your bucket list?  This evening, as Keoki and I were walking about the village, to my left, the sun was setting through some clouds showing bright shades of fire red and yellows, to my right the full moon was showing it's face, and in the not to far distance, there were huge, dramatic bolts of lightning.  My eyes didn't know which way to look first, and it made me feel so far away from the life I once led.  It just seems that no matter what's happening on the nature side, it's bigger, brighter, and more dramatic here than anywhere else on earth. One night during training, my mom asked me why I go outside. I told her that in my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd see anything like what's her backyard on a nightly basis—something so unique—so African.  So like a good mom, she comes to check out what it was I was seeing. She agreed it was beautiful, how you can feel the presence in the skies, yet sadly, she said it was too bad that it's just taken for granted here, that most people can't even point out the Southern Cross, or even know what it is for that matter. What a shame that we all take for granted what's in our own backyards!  With all this beauty around me, I feel incredibly fortunate to be experiencing this continent, and incurable romantic or not, for the next two years, I for one, will never stop looking towards the African skies.  

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