We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.
Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.
No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart
There’s a highway of stars across the heavens There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna A hope and dream at the edge of the sky And your life is a story like the wind Your life is a story like the wind I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart To hold and stand me by I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart Under African sky
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…”
Another set of pics remembering my time in beautiful Botswana.
Today I am thinking about the Botswana rhythm. There is a wonderful rhythm to the seasons and natural cycles. The flooding then drying of the Okavango Delta. The migration of the zebra and the elephant.
A time for marula trees to bear fruit which brings the elephants.
September is amazing…. a deep breath before the rains arrive. Unexpected flowers bloom. Babies abound – impala, lechwe, zebra.
January is prickly hot. But some afternoons turn black on the horizon and then the lightening and thunder and rain arrive. The cuckoos and Woodland Kingfisher call continuously. A good time to venture into the reeds in a mokoro hoping for a glimpse of the elusive sitatunga. At Xigera Lagoon the African Skimmers are nesting.
The people of Botswana have a rhythm too. A time to plant. A time to harvest. A time to move the cattle. A time to gather from the wild.
There is a beautiful kinship that weaves the Ba-Tswana together as a people but also connects them to this land. It was so easy to fall into this rhythm and be mesmerised by its beat.
Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour.
Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather. I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience. More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.
And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too. Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience.
There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey.
My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog.
But it wasn’t always serene. There is a harshness here too. It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.
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! 😊