Only two more posts to go for this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.
Two days of Kruger National Park memories… this is part one.
I was just looking down the list of rest camps in Kruger. It turns out over the many adventures there since childhood I have stayed at all but two.
My favourite area to wander would be from Satara northwards.
Pafuri is particularly magical with all those fever trees and glimpses of nyala in the shadows by the Luvuvhu River. That brings to mind the Nyala Walking Trail – sublime!
Actually any of Kruger’s walking trails are a fabulous experience. Lucky enough to have walked a few of these over the years too.
Kruger visits were so formative for me. I learned so much about ecology and how ecosystems work simply from soaking up all the info I could get my hands on. Here is where I fell in love with birds and took up birding under my wonderful Dad’s guidance.
Kruger has a distinct spirit of place. The air crackles with its magic as you arrive at the gate (any of the gates). I thought this might change over the years, grow dim somehow as I aged. But no. I got to visit again last year briefly and the magic is still there.
Now I probably need to say at this point that I am fully aware of Kruger’s history. Not all decisions made in regard to its management both for wildlife and for the surrounding communities have been sound or just over the years.
All I want to focus on right at this moment in time is the gratitude I feel for having had so many opportunities to pass through Kruger’s gates and get swallowed up in that bushveld magic.
Last virtual wander through the Okavango Delta and surrounds.
Today I am thinking of magical wildlife moments. I got to experience so many during my years there. I still have to pinch myself this time really happened.
There’s the time I had to sleep on the pool lounger as a family of hippo were grazing all round my little housie that night.
Or the 5am deep breath and tiptoe past three sleeping bull elephant (all round the house) to make sure I got to the main area of camp to get ready for guest arrival.
Then there’s a moment with a young she leopard making her way across our island in the Delta. It was twilight and there she was sat on the path ahead of me. Too close before I realised she was there. But she paused before moving off, just long enough for us to acknowledge each other.
Then there’s the time our resident bull elephant stuck his whole head through the office door to get at a couple of marula fruit that had found their way onto the floor inside. Yes, I was in this little camp office at the time.
A lone spotted hyena would make the rounds with me most evenings on lock up after guests had retired for the night…. trotting along after me along the boardwalks…. not too close…. after the first few times of feeling insecure, I actually found him quite companionable.
The Pel’s Fishing Owl family nesting in the tree above my house.
The big python who lived under my house. I never had a rodent problem.
And many more…. that’s breathtaking Botswana! Best place to experience real, wild Africa (just my opinion).
But this kind of magic has a life span. Too much of a good thing and all that… still, I am left with incredible memories and oodles of gratitude for this chapter in my story.
In the wise words of Prime Circle from their song Breathing…
“Here’s to the good times The bad times The times that could have been To the wrong times The right times I know we’ll breathe again…”
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
COVID-19 lockdown day four here in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Time at home to really consider the space between stimulus and response.
I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been reading
and watching. Trying to make sense of all of this – where is our opportunity to
However, I should say first that not all of us are in a
position to reflect on this current situation in the way that I am able to. Self-care and self-compassion will look
different for each of us at the moment.
Some of us out there will be dealing first hand with the tragedy that is
So, it is to those of us who are simply doing our bit by staying home, physical distancing and encouraging being together apart, that I address these reflections to. And reflecting is important right now as Nature has given us this space between.
“Reflecting is not a lazy way to avoid moving forward; it is a crucial part of untangling ourselves from the dominant cultural patterns that are so easy to replicate when we ‘just do it’. Reflecting takes skill”
Let’s start with what seems to be the unravelling picture of
the causes of the unprecedented time we now find ourselves in.
Gates’ TED talk 2015 – this is a link to Bill Gates’ eerily accurate prediction
about epidemics and what we would need to prepare. His suggestions mostly focus on building capacity
for epidemiologists, innovation, health ministry preparedness and government
collaboration. Much of this seems to
have fallen on deaf ears and the work hasn’t been done.
Gates’ TED Connects March 2020 – How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic. In this 50 minute conversation with Bill Gates
a lot of ground is covered with regard to testing, therapeutics, vaccines and other
logistics around managing the pandemic.
What I love is his pragmatic optimism, his belief in
humanity and his unswerving belief in our creativity in terms of science and
innovation. But I do wonder, if we are
not in that particular creative sphere, on that sort of scientific front line, where
do our responsibilities lie? As just
average global citizens, what difference can we make, if any?
The next piece of the puzzle for me is why would a pandemic
of this nature be an inevitability as Gates suggested in 2015? Well, from my research it seems we have
brought this on ourselves – the sheer numbers that make up the human
population, the amount and the way we consume, the biodiversity loss and ecosystem
service disruption we have caused, the accelerated climate change we have
Here are some links worth reading/watching:
John Scanlon, African Parks Network has written an eloquent article
on wildlife crime and the link between wet markets and disease spread.
If ever there was a time when Mother Nature herself was speaking up and giving credence to what scientists, researchers and conservationists have been saying for years, it is now.
But what can we do?
What hope is there? Are there individual
actions we can each take that will make a difference?
Yes, I believe so!
What follows are a few ideas that range from the deep and reflective to
the more light-hearted, surviving lockdown ones. All ways to consider the space between.
At times like these it is useful to pause and consider our values. Values are our guiding forces. They are quite individual to each of us, although will be influenced by our culture and upbringing. My values are very much based on the environment and how I see my relationship with other living things and the planet in general. Many people have values based on how they value their social relationships and still others may focus on themselves and their individual well-being. Or a combination of these values. None are right or wrong. But what I think is interesting is that no matter where your core values lie, we can no longer deny the need for change as the human species – behaviours and actions. Setting a new norm that will impact on individual health and wellbeing, the good of humanity and future generations, as well as the planet we are so intimately connected to, is imperative.
That was the deep stuff.
On to something more practical.
If we are mindful of how we are living on the planet and the impact we
are having, we can take practical steps to mitigate and reduce negative impact. For a super interesting read on a scale of
solution focused ideas to address climate change, check out Drawdown. I think there is something for everyone here,
no matter your circumstance or where you find yourself in the world. I found this information incredibly empowering!
Then, I really think we should be thinking about what we eat and how it is produced. Regenerative agriculture makes the Drawdown list at number 11. Here is a one farmer’s perspective – Angus McIntosh talks about the case for regenerative agriculture. As I mentioned above, living mindfully is key and knowledge is power. Food for thought 😉
I have another quote from Niki Harré’s Infinite Game that I think fits here:
But the idea kept popping into my head that life is based on radical cooperation. Cooperation fitted because the actions of each life form supported the growth of other forms; and it was radical because these actions were at the root of both individual survival and the functioning of the entire ecosystem.
Or travel virtually… my friend Carla from the Blue Sky Society
Trust is currently taking us on an epic African Safari experience…
As for me…. Painting calms me down… here’s some new ones…
And that about wraps up a very long post. I will be back in April hoping to post most
days with photos and short stories from my travels over the years. Join me for some virtual wanderings.
Take heart, dear ones.
All will be well. Our collective
courage, compassion and kindness in this space between will make it so.
Leaving you with a couple more quotes from the hugely inspiring
Infinite Game which seem written for a time such as now…. Thank you, Niki Harré, for sharing your wisdom 💙
“This is what being an infinite player or a community that cares about our lives together means. Getting up each day, remembering what matters, and trying like hell to live that in the confusion of real life. It does not mean knowing what is right. Sometimes it might just mean rejecting that which is clearly wrong (as far as you can tell). And, I humbly suggest, this process may be aided by imagining life as an infinite game. Not because it is, exactly, but because imagining it so might help to focus us on what truly matters.”
“Love is at the heart of the infinite values. Radical cooperation is a way of translating this into the mind-set of an infinite player. It involves trying your best to let go of the belief, trained into us by our society’s emphasis on self-promotion and self-acquisition, that security lies in what you have cordoned off for you and your descendants. Insofar as security exists at all, it is better understood as lying in how well we cooperate with each other and the natural world in which we are embedded.”
It is the 15th of March. One year ago today the Christchurch mosque attack happened. One year ago Cyclone Idai devastated the coast of Mozambique. I am sure many other tragic events eventuated that day. However, I am pausing to reflect on the two events that impacted my world then. But like I wrote in my blog post at that time, the impact on me was minimal and only caused some inconveniences to my plans.
In the year that has been, countless other traumas and tragedies have occurred across the world – personal ones, community ones and now global ones. How do we cope with the sorts of emotions that surface at times like these – fear, anxiety, hopelessness, dread, anger, denial, grief, loss? These feelings are uncomfortable to say the very least and it would be so much easier just not to feel them at all. Right?
But here’s the thing, life never promised us a positive-only ride. If we tell ourselves that the difficult emotions that come with difficult circumstances are unfair, bad and to be suppressed or avoided at all costs, it really only makes things worse.
A year later and things are certainly not very rosy in the world at present. What we are experiencing now requires all the tools we have as human beings to lean into the discomfort we are all facing.
And so, I
am reminded of what I have learned from two incredible women.
Brené Brown PhD in her book Rising Strong shares the wisdom her social science research has revealed about the benefits of showing up and leaning into discomfort.
“We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend…We can’t rise strong when we’re on the run.”
Susan David PhD has been an absolute revelation to me. I guess I relate to her because of the similar background and accent! 😊