Monday, July 8, 2013

Unraveling Beauty

"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy."  Ernest Hemingway

Just imagine being snuggled up in layers while in your sleeping bag, under a huge vast sky, stepping out to a safari truck, heading for some of the most enthralling places of the world that will take your breath away.  This has been what it's like these past two years, and with my insatiable curiosity for the world, the intrigue just beckons for more.  Each day is different and no day in the bush comes with any guarantees, but there are promises of being exposed to a constant stream of creative stimulus, a feast for the senses stimulates in one single moment when even the warmth of the sun hits your skin, or how the sun descends in the never ending horizon, and the nervous excitement when departing on a game drive. I'm almost in a quagmire of where to begin: but as they say, start in the beginning.

The first days were spent with friends from home, which was great, yet a little strange for me, but I felt proud to be able to give them a small taste of Botswana.  We cruised along the Chobe River with it's mighty trumpeting elephants, lurking hippos, fish eagles and other fascinating birds, and stunning sunsets.  I'm not sure if it was having my friends here, or knowing it was towards the end of my service, but as the sun set over the Chobe while we were on the river, I burst into tears for the shear beauty that was before me, and the realization that I may never see this again.  

I thought I was putting sentiment aside when we went to Victoria Falls for the day on the Zimbabwe side, but that was not to be either.  It was exhilarating getting so wet, seeing the enormity of the falls, the strength of the water, the rainbows around each corner, and listening to only the sounds of the crashing below, and yes, the tears welted up at seeing this world wonder.

Ok, now the fun begins---my friends go home and I meet up with a fellow PCV to go through Savuti, down through Moremi, and a mokoro trip on the Okavanga before heading to Tsodilo which warranted it's own blog post.  We also met up with other PCV's along the way which is always fun.  The road to Savuti was dotted with ancient Baobabs which have their own folklore and individual upside down character, but it was the anticipation of the predators that had me sitting on the edge of my seat.  The Savuti channel is all but dried up for now, though they pump water into areas for the animals.  It has a beauty reminiscent, but not quite, of the Serengetti with it's vast open plains and dense population of predators.  Somehow driving around, you just had a sneaking suspicion that these leopard spotted you before you spotted them.  The highlight was spending much of the morning and afternoon with a brand new family of lion cubs.  It was magical the way they frolicked around, nursed, and acted like kids.  We also spotted several leopard--though they are shy and elusive.

The Kwai River in Northern Moremi offered us the chance to sit near even more beauty because of the water, but we got up close to several wild dogs which is hard to come by.  They were beautiful and I was almost shocked at the site of them.

Then onto Maun, how can anyone not fall in love with Maun with the way it spreads itself along the banks of the timeless Thamalakane river, and our Mokoro trip where we weaved in and out of the grasses and reeds, spotting hippo and beautiful birds along the way. Sitting a water level, wriggling your toes on the banks, serene waters flowing, and a profusion of plant and birdlife was remarkable. What I liked most was sitting down low and listening to the vegetations slapping against the mokoro.  The Okavanga Delta, a mosaic of land and water, is truly a precious gem cradling this pristine extraordinary place on earth.  But at least I didn't cry today!

Every trip, landscape, every safari may be different, but no matter where you are in Africa, just take a look up because the 4 bright stars in kite formation which make up the Southern Cross will surely make you feel lost in time, and that's exactly what I felt!

Can I say more!

Baby and Mama out of the water

Beauty Fish Eagle in Chobe

Male Lion in Savuti

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