Thursday, 11 August 2011

A Journey of Giraffes

"We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey." 
-Stephen Covey

It was a challenging week, one of those that you really “Thank God its Friday.” Filled with excitement and awaiting the much anticipated and needed arrival of team Francistown, I headed to the gym for the usual erg and aerobics class. Two hours of jumping around, awkward movements, drained sweat and filled energy. I met another friend there that night, her name is too difficult to pronounce let alone spell. She drove me home into the carefree darkness. A cold shower of bliss and Lyndsay and I were off to Pizza Pizza, Kasanes one stop restruant, a menu of curry, chinese, pizza, and coffee, a unique variety for a whatever your feeling vibe. Rajh, the owner brought us complimentary Castles, mine collecting sweat on the glass as I had yet to finish my cold and round of horse pill antibiotics.

In a flood of positivity, Thomas, Isabelle and Faisal appeared under the streetlight. A run skip embrace around sleeping bag packed arms and troubles were pushed into the past. We huddled around the patio table for a picnic of catching up, hand signals of enthusiasm, vibrations of laughter and pizza fullness. That night the five of us stayed in our room and in failure to push the two double beds together, Lyndsay, Is and I snuggled into one. Sleeping without protection… of the mosquito net. Heavy heat of off key notes sailing in from the open window with the unmistakable buzz of bites to be.

While writing this, now more then ever I realize the truth in one comment Isabelle made about us “coming full circle”. This further confirming Lyndsays “days till the end count”, that I have previously been trying to block out. “No, it can’t be, to come full circle is accepting that our time here is almost up.” Faisal answering me with, “No, a circle never ends.” With this mentality I can accept that we have come full circle, looking at the weekends events it is hard to deny. Three months ago we had all arrived in Kasane. We sat on the patio of Pizza Pizza and planed thirteen amazing weekends; now behind us. Lyndsay, Is and I squeezed into bed for a hot squishy night as we had on the first night at Mamas. We were preparing for our last game drive in Chobe National Park. Where we once sat, our past selves, first spotting a herd of elephants. As Faisal pointed out, and in the wise words of my elementary school Brownies leader, “A circles round, it has no end.” The experiences I have had here I will take them with me and Botswana, one day I will be coming home. The circle is not yet done turning.

From the early morning chocolate dark the British ladies voice of our alarm clock rang out, “It’s time to get up. The time is, five o’clock. Its time to get up.” With the off button reflex we pushed ourselves up and out the door.

My overly attractive snowflake fleece, $4.99 limited time offer exclusively from the Chinese corner store, defending the morning nip, I sat on the curb of Spar parking lot, enjoying our customary meal of bread and peanut butter. Swallowing to the stopping tires of an SUV and exchanging looks of open air let down, we climbed inside, our guide, Godfrey introducing himself. Driving the twenty or so kilometers out of town and into the park, all previous apprehension evaporated into the heat of the day. The top of the car came off and we spent most of our time perched on top. Monkeys holding the bars and swinging to the music of off road terrain.

Godfrey, or “The Bush Master” as he has come to be known in my mind, is both an incredible and inspirational person. He reminds me of the importance of intertwining passion and work. A guide in the greater sense, and a contributor to opening up the raw appreciation for nature, which the weekend has gift-wrapped inside of me.

Bush Family

En route to our campsite (a random place in the wild of the park where we were to be pitching tents) we sank into sand. Stuck like gum. Godfrey explained how he needed to deflate his tires a little. He preceded to jump out, grab a thorn from a nearby tree, let a wheeze of air out of each tire, hop back in and accelerate out of the hole. Through an exchange of raised eyebrow glances we were in undisputed agreement that we were indeed in the presence of a bushmaster. Isabelle turned to me, “wait till he sees our little tent from Game.. where you can go like this, *pokes my arm, and it falls over.”

At camp, aka the middle of nowhere, we set up the little tent who thought he could, a few yards from the shadow of Godfrey’s canvas fortress. Is and I prepared a lunch of tuna sandwiches and avocado slices while the boys constructed the toilet hole.

As we have all been keeping blogs and while I thoroughly enjoy reading through the others perspectives of events, I made the mistake of skimming Isabelle’s post before writing this. I share in the way she described that no matter how I write this next part it will come across as just a list of wildlife sightings to which you will think “Oh wow, how cool”, and quickly read on. This is so far from what was actually experienced in the deep moving and primal emotions. When life and death are before your eyes. Blood and flesh. Beauty and grace. To what Isabelle coined “the circle of life.” The Animal Kingdom to which we named ourselves conqueors and yet fail so desperately to see the interconnectedness of it all.

Genetics interlude… Coming soon with internet access.


Three wild dogs ripping apart an impala. They like fresh meat, by the time it drops the intestine is already out. There are less then 550 wild dogs left in the world and over the course of the trip we have now seen four! “They have the most stamina, can chase an antelope for one or two miles.” It is the deciding factor to when the antelope trips or tires. The dogs work as a team, they do it in a relay. If one tires the other will take over. A unified family. “For members that are very old they will eat extra and then go and throw up the meat so that the elder one can still eat.” Gathered around the impala, fervent jaws licking meat from bones. They feast. Bushed tails vehemently waving from the bush. The scientific name, Lycaon pictus is derived from the Greek “wolf” and Latin “painted”, translating to paint wolf. Their tails are white tipped paintbrushes. It is a signal that the kill has been made. “That’s why they wag their tails. To signal others.”

The dog’s ears perk with attentiveness. They lift their heads from the platter and scamper away, leaving dinner on the table.

The vultures turn. Five white back vultures sweep in to tidy up. Joined by another ten… twenty.. a lost count. They take to the sky and the cloud of wings dissipates just as suddenly as it arrival.


My eyes struggle to make out the figure moving with the breath of the grass. The illusive leopard. He appears a golden ghost against the landscape of his hiding. Jaws forming a vice around the impala, he drags it back into the mystery of his world. “They are very strong, can pull an entire impala up a tree.” Two jackals trail him in whining cries.

“Now you can see how nature works. It is.. what is the word… symbiotic. The dogs will kill, eat half. The vultures come. And now the leopard carries it away.” Later tonight the hyena will come chew the soft bones, leaving the hard ones to the Earth. Bones to soil.

We continued the drive, a dialogue of smiles. Wide-eyed raining enthusiasm. I think it is important to explain that the reason we had decided to go on one last game drive is to fulfill Faisal’s desperate desire to see lions. Talking to Godfrey, he was telling us how he dreamt of lions last night. We came to a stop, heads turning, scanning eyes. Godfrey pointed to the ground. ”See, there tracks. Lions…. You have to follow the tracks, you have to work hard.” Through what is know as a “bush telegraph” or communication between passing guides, we were directed to the spot.


My journal reads: LIONS Alas

Two cubs gorging on a dead baby elephant. The mother watches from the shadows of the bushes. Different prides of lions have developed prey specialization. In most areas elephants will chase the lions. Here the playing field is turned, lions leading in offence. This pride in Northern Botswana is unique in that their forte is elephants. “They will feed on an elephant carcass for up to seven days.”

The cubs are four, maybe five months. Mortality rate is very high among the young. The mother will sometimes abandon the cubs if they are suckling too much- depleting her calcium stores. They often die from snakebites, the mamba poison. At night there is danger of hyenas (a bit of truth in The Lion King) the hyenas will kill the cubs in the absence of their mother.

They look up at us inquisitively; blood dyed faces and then return to the feast, bellies hanging in fullness.

Each of us speaking our own commentary of astonishment, I over hear Thomas, “There’s flesh EVERYWHERE” and “I feel so blessed right now.” And Faisal, “Ah so cute, look at him try to rip the trunk off.”

Moving on in voiceless looks of wonder, Godfrey proclaims, “I told you I dreamt of lions.”

Driving into the day… I saw animals, I saw life. I have learned so much. Godfrey is an encyclopedia of passion. “I always wanted to be a guide. And so even in primary school I would study the biology. And you see I followed my dream. I would memorize the book. Read it every night, so I could be like: water lily page 132. Great white egret page 79…” I have gathered knowledge and gained appreciation. With pictures and journals of memories. With more then moments, I left.


A journey of giraffes; the name given when they are walking. Elegant undisturbed movements. They walk for no destination but the present. Ballet slipper feet waltz through the grass. The upper body of a statue. “You cannot hunt a giraffe. Its like you shoot a baby. You can see the tears. The lips moving saying ‘You have done something bad.’”

A tower of giraffes; the name given when they are eating from the trees. They graze down wind as to avoid the gossip of trees. The trees release hormones in a complex network of communication as a defense mechanism. The giraffes stand, watching us through spidery eyelashes. “They have long eyelashes to see further.” They chew, sideways teeth and kissing lips, velvet black tongues.


Two males begin crossing necks. “Giraffes have only 7 vertebrae in their neck, the same number as humans!” At first mistaken for the romance of two lovers and then quickly contouring with violence. Loud thumps and flexible twists. “God created them with fur on their horns so they don’t puncture the stomach when fighting for dominance. The horns anchor on to the skull at age four or five. Boys fight over the girls… natures interesting.”


Crocodile Comments: “If you fight with a crocodile before killing it, you can be killed by its blood. It will release acid making it blood toxic…this is why you can only eat the tail. The system is so strong, with a very acidic stomach… They have evolved over thousands of years. Their red blood cells have interesting immunity properties, killing bacteria.” There have been studies on crocodile blood as it has been shown to kill the HIV virus.


“The hippo is going to prey. It is a Muslim hippo, it dips its head.” Fun fact from Lyndsays gum wrapper: Hippos are susceptible to sunburn.


NINE Lions and a MALE sleeping in the shade of a thorny tree! Mufasa Mufasa Mufasa!


A family of elephants play in the mud and water. “Elephants just like humans… the males mature at age twenty-five, the females thirteen years.”

They splash themselves in the mud to cool off. “Later, they will go up against a tree and press it into their skin to absorb the nutrients.” They are very smart. If you listen you can hear the different sounds of communication. Not heard at first but there are unique notes. “They look at us with the truck and camera clicks and say, ‘wow look at them, the Homo sapiens are very stupid.’”


“Zebra stripes work as an air conditioner. White to dissipate heat and black to absorb.”


We stop, the engine is turned off. Breath held in silence. A herd of elephants is surrounding us. “When elephants kill an animal, they will always cover it with leaves or sand. To respect the dead.” If they come across the bones of another elephant, they will carefully place the bones somewhere in mourning.

Whispering foot prints as their feet press down, the Earth sinking beneath the weight. The remote is on slow motion as their reality moves in front of us. Immersed in a spirituality, you could almost reach out and touch. Texture of age, soft wrinkles. Our eyes meet and I say “may you be happy, may you be peaceful.” There is nothing quite like love from an elephant.


Kudu have big ears. Satellite dishes for good hearing while they are feeding. White stripes under their eyes help to reflect light in the dark.


Termite Thoughts:

Monitor lizards will lay their eggs in termite mounds. The Queen termite can be up to six inches long and live up to thirty years. She lays 35,000 eggs per day! They cultivate mushrooms. The hot air goes up to the top of the mound, where there is lots of carbon dioxide. The fungus, mushroom and termite are symbiotic, working side by side, each dependant on the other. Rock, paper, scissors. Termite, fungus, mushroom?

The termite mounds go so deep into the ground that they are studied for mining. “You can sample the soil to determine its composition and see if diamonds are there.”

“You wear the wedding ring on the left side because this is the side of your heart.” We got speaking of diamonds and conflicts… Thomas made an interesting point about “how we have created its value.” The dollar gives power to the diamond.

Into the early evening we returned to the spot we saw the lions sleeping under the tree. Godfrey said that we would wait here for them to return. “They would come from the bush to drink… let’s think like them. Lets be lions.” We proceed to “be lions”. Fully trusting his bush master instincts and bloated with happiness, we sat on the top of the car, sun tanning in laughter. A safari car drove by and the guide asked Godfrey “what’s wrong with your guests? They look so happy and they are not even watching the animals.”

"What I know for sure is that your life is a multipart series of all your experiences- and each experience is created by your thoughts, intentions, and actions to teach you what you need to know. Your life is a journey of learning to love yourself first and then extending that love to others in every encounter." - 
Oprah Winfrey

In the distance there was a massive herd of impala, “the McDonalds of Chobe”. The black stripes on the bums of impala are for species identification… license plates. They have black hair on their feet that covers glands. These glands release hormones when the back legs kick up, running from predators or when in the dark to communicate with the rest of the herd. Impala can jump an incredible twelve feet high and 32 feet in distance. Thomas and I joined in mutual jaw dropped expressions as one soared through the air, legs of a birds wings. The female impala will give birth as soon as the rains hit her back.


The prophecy of lions emerge. Seven lions and sunset. Right where Godfrey said they would be. He says he knew this because they follow ancient trails. More cars began to pull up, but the lions did not break the stare down of supper. “Lions don’t move their eyes much. They must lock on one animal that is not in a group to more easily distinguish.” Locked and loaded the pride split, taking up different stations in the brush. Right before our cameraed eyes the head impala, a one horned buck pranced right into the trap. “What the hell is he doing?... was he insane?” A cloud of growls as dust rose around the dead. The lions feasted in a circle of a vicious manners.

Behind us the sun was setting on their dinner party and we headed back to camp to start ours. For Top Chef: Chobe, it was arranged that both the boys and girls would cook a small meal and Godfrey would be the impartial judge. Thomas and Faisal cooked a traditional dish of pap and chakalaka with cabbage. Isabelle and I made a papya avacado chutney over mandrine orange chicken with a side of garlic bread. When asked what the dish was called we named it “The Best Day Ever.” Godfrey was too polite to decide a winner and although out of character, we were able to put a pause on the competition and sit around the fire talking and enjoying The Best Day Ever.

The pep rally sounds of our excitement had not yet faded. In fact I was able to ride the weekend high through most of the following week. We simply could not believe it. The amount of incredible things we were blessed to see. Godfrey spoke a lot of how we were such a lucky group and that it had not been a long time since he has experienced such an eventful trip. Some people will go on a 21 day safari and not see a single big predator. We talked about “the energy and balance of the universe”, a power too great to comprehend. The subtle magnetism of nature. I have been fortunate to feel its pull.

With the tiredness of an overwhelming day we headed for the tent. The instructions of Godfrey fresh in our minds: “If you hear noises close by, don’t worry. That is the honey badger… if you hear big noises that is the elephants. They know you are here. Be quiet and stay inside the tent. Do not wander past the toilet. This is the wild. Good night.” Despite the warnings, I slept calmly, cozzied up with the others. Waking to Thomas’s occasional nudges and whispers “Chloe.. Chloe..” yeah “Do you hear that?” … no. “There is rustling outside.” I did hear it. I just didn’t know how to comfort him. We laid there and listened to the untamed night.

Approximately 5:20am

A thunder storm of elephants. You could feel the tremble of the ground, although there is a possibility it came from within our tent. “Its time to get up. There are elephants outside. Its time to get up.” The cracking of branches and rustling of leaves. They actually we not dangerously close to us but in the silence or dark every sound was amplified, you could hear even a fly on an elephant, and most certainly the elephants meandering through the bush.

Rolled sleeping bags, stuffed tent, piled packs, shoveled sand and we were on our way out of the park. Carried by the depth of sand tracks we rode, wind on cheeks, the smell of freedom. Lyrics of The Lion King to the rising sun.


A pack of cars surrounding a tree. Godfrey parked on the other side of the commotion and we waited. Russling leaves in the upper flank of the tree and a piece of meat dangling from its limbs. Out of the shadows a leopard and her cub leaped down. Surveying the swarm and moving towards us to model, gracefully stance and curled tail. They disappeared into the grass and the park boundries disappeared behind us.

The trip back to Kasane takes about fifteen minutes. It boggles my mind that just fifteen minutes from where I sit at my desk, walk the streets and lay down to sleep, this just took place and continues to on a daily basis. When describing this weekend to my brother on the phone he said “wow sounds just like the discovery channel!” And it was, it was just like the discovery channel, except with wind in your hair. This is the circle of life. And it moves us all.

I am extremely moved by my overall Botswana experience and this weekend. I am going to further research from a genetic and nerological prospective the interconnectivness between humans and animals.

Walking forward as if on on the journey of a giraffe.

"Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go." 
-Natalie Goldberg

*Photos by my wonderfully talented friend Isabelle Jones

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Polished Penny

Photo: Thomas Parente

A glimpse of Kasane through my eyes. Caught in a snap shot somewhere between the film of a fleeting traveler and manteled memory of a resident.

A tarnished penny just outside the Chobe National Park in northern Botswana, Kasane sits heads up nestled in the tall grasses of the sub-Saharan African bush. Picked up and polished by tourism operators, advertisements transform the wild into a contradiction of six star suites, satin sheets, chlorinated pools and fine dining served with an optional side of adventure and a refreshing beer to go with the cheque of 250$ per night.

The main road draws a line. Clothes hanging out to dry. Fantasy filled days of tourists and everyday reality of locals. Where sand between toes turns to pavement clicking heels.

One side lodges embroider the river, one after another after another. Beaded along from West to East, strung in a design of decreasing bank accounts, increasing stars. A craft of glitter glue pasted to the sky. The immensity of the universe presents itself, a hanging chandelier over the scattered industry of opportunity.

A place, where beauty meets the definition, where tamed nature is unpredictably wild. The heartbeat of Kasane, it keeps rhythm to its own.

Naked mornings, of neighbors bathing. Bathing to drowsiness of work. There is a softness, fathered and purple down. There are trees filled of whispers, leafs blowing the commotion of life singing. Saying join me in song. Join me in song. This is the dawn of routine. Chickens imprint scurries in the sand, voices ringing out in natures alarm. Their are strangers, no longer strangers. Greetings and passings moving all along. There are dogs, chasing gold tails. Rustling leaves, a crunch that once was named fall.

Sweating noons, of heat humming. Humming to its only tune. There is food, flying off shelves, as dump trucks turn black faces white. There is a flow, in and out with careless and fascination of the sea. The tide is turning. It keeps on turning. Fried meat and ice cream fill the air. Lines are growing, ever longer, as money moves hand to hand. This is the flavor of lunch. An old women, she was sitting, bouncing baby hanging from her arms. There are greasy fingers, blooming bushes. Red flowers and talking too loud. There are brothers, waving laughter. Water glistening, painted patterns, animals carved into wood.

Dancing evenings, of kids playing. Playing to ingenuity their own. There is garbage lining gutters, sidewalk risen from the ground. There are prayers, running reeds, along a color buttered sky. And it came like a call. A call from the Lord. A tv in a window. Empty bottles, sleeping in the street. This is the sight of dark. An elephant inquiry, he wanders the road, dust imprinted soles. There was judgment, and a bit of it was mine. Voices calling, drums beats and another track to drink. There is kindness, hearty hugs. An angle filling my dreams of that sound.

Lyndsay reading outside our home

Kasane, a glimpse not only through my eyes but glance of my heart. A penny in my pocket, a piece of my home.

And so the countdown goes eight more days and apprehension.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Katima Karma

Girls Weekend: Namibia – hot showers hippos hitching ect.

While the boys went shopping in Gaborone. Isabelle joined Lyndsay and I for a girl’s weekend of camping in Namibia and most importantly another passport stamp.

In vacillation over not knowing what to write about this weekend Isabelle consoled me with “Some things are better plain. Writing a poem about hanging off the back of a truck somehow takes away from the daringness of it.” And I guess she is right. So plainly speaking here is our Namibian excursion:

Our boss Mr. Kashweeka had invited us to a festival for Namibia’s national culture celebration in honor of the union of five major tribes in 1652. With daypacks hugging us against the morning chill, tent in hand, we met him outside the office for an early start. I took the front seat of the donkey (one of his seven or so cars) and way ho away we went. Traveling through Chobe National park en route to the Namibian border. Along the highway we had our own personal game drive. From Isabelle’s estatic reaction to a darting Sable (an extended relative of the antelope) I was disappointed to discover that the Christmas morning excitement was no longer there for me. Lyndsay and I have had the opportunity to travel this road through the park multiple times in the past couple weeks for work and meetings in the surrounding communities. Whether or not this is a sign of my adaptation or mimicked reaction of the locals it was disheartening that the sound of the bells has faded.

We arrove at the border after an hour characterized by Christian jazz, zebras, elephants and legroom. Continuing across the bridge, the bush opens to an expansive ballroom of flood plain filled of wind courting reeds, still water introducing itself to blue sky and charming company of the horizon. Two stamps on now filled page 12 and a short thirty minutes later we arrived in Bukalo.

Ah I am completely distracted right now because there are these tinsy tiny ants crawling on my calves. I don’t know where they came from but I’ve removed forty or so from my bed. My skin is literally crawling!

… I digress.

Out of remoteness and off the side of a dust brushed road, a crowd emerged. Police officers smoking under a tree directing traffic along the edges. A breeze of bright patterned dresses moving fluidly along side us, rippling towards the concentrated explosion of culture. For only being in Namibia for two days this celebration really introduced us to the savory flavor of Namibian culture. We were ushered behind Mr. Kashweeka into a VIP tent (for lack of better description of the structure) where he was given a cushioned chair and we were shown to the other side outfitted in wooden, but still respected chairs. Everywhere we go Mr. Kashweeka seems to know everybody and is greeted with great honor as a man of authority. I suppose I should not be surprised that his reputation extends international boarders.

In the shade of the tent and comfort of chairs we watched the performances of traditional tribal dances, music and dress, each representing a different region. It was really interesting to see the diversity between not only Namibia and Botswana but also the various beats within the country each pattern moving to a different rhythm. In admiring the ladies dresses, Isabelle pointed out how you could really notice the Dutch influence of colonialism on the country, hidden in the hooped skirts, petty coats and headscarves. The program continued throughout the day filled with speeches of important leaders, the national anthem, choir groups, dance, gifts presented to the chief and a prayer of thanks to conclude in song. Leaving and unsure of what to do we bowed to the chief or to who we thought was the chief (major fail). We got embarrassingly corrected and turned to bow again in the opposite direction.

Mr. Kashweeka’s car was blocked in, as he set out in the commotion to find the owner of the car behind, Isabelle and I went to urgently find a washroom. We found one. Overall the bathrooms so far have been fine, nothing special to mention. That’s more then I can say for this one. I was very happy to be wearing hiking boots, wading through the waste to get to the toilet where two rocks were propped to stand on.

Within about one minute, no more like 15 seconds of Mr. Kashweeka dropping us off along the main road, we caught a hitch. Before even getting our packs from the trunk another truck had pulled over. Hopping in the back and waving a quick goodbye I felt really proud of our traveling efficiency and hope we were able to prove our capability as he was previously skeptical of how we would travel the 40 km to Katima Mullio. As if the boys think they have a chance in the Amazing Race.

One of the great things about Namibia is that in comparison to Botswana it is cheep cheep. If previous travel has been on a shoestring I guess you could say that this weekend was on the first loop of a bow. For transport, accommodation, food, everything I spend 87 pula (the equivalent of 13.40 US dollars). For the broke student in me this alone makes the trip a success.

Grabbing some groceries in town, we hailed a cab to take us to Nambwe Island where we were camping that night. Is and I were arguing over 5 Namibian dollars with the taxi driver. Him not budging from 50 to 45, it took Lyndsay to sojourn us from walking away, being like “guys come on lets go, its less then 50 cents.” Voice of reason.

Nambwe Island, also known as Hippo Campsite, rests on the banks of the lower Zambezi River. A lawn of well manicured grass, filed by stone paths to the multiple sites, French tipped with picnic tables and fire pits. Not quite the rustic getaway we were hoping for but after pitching our tent to the reflection of the sun in the stillness of the river decided it would do just fine. They have a resident hippo, Stompy. He often comes up from the river to chill with the campers. The main office even had photos of him a few feet from some people around the fire pit! The owner informed us that “he is used to people around but is still a wild animal and thus regular hippo running courses still apply.” To our disappointment we did not see Stompy that night, although two people from Germany we were visiting with saw him the previous night.

We woke up before the sun to pack up and shower, yes a real shower. In HOT water to boot! Such a gift. It was everything I had been dreaming of and so much more. Steamy wonderful. So much appreciation and cleanliness.

Walking out to the main road (the cab we had called failed to come), two Namibian guides we had met the previous night drove by in their SUV which was packed FULL of gear for their trip to Tanzania. They looked at the three of us. Looked back at their over stuffed truck. Looked at us again. Back at the truck. Then offered that we could stand on the back of the bumper for a lift into town.

Most suspect form of transportation yet. Not only in the bed of a truck. But on the back, toes of boots balanced on the bumper, holding onto the roof rack. Any further back and we would be on the pavement. 4 km like this along a sand road, a turn onto the highway, another 10km, hazard lights on and an increase in speed feathered with fear. Wind turning my wet hair cold, metal sticking to death griped hands, laughter over the situation, cramping legs. A highlight in the “this is so crazy I can’t believe that just happened” kind of way.

We efficiently made our way home in the game of hitching, moving back across the boarder and in another few turns through the park. Weekend success.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Donkey Riding

One of the perplexing figures of speech that left me confused not only the first but also the second and even third time hearing it, is that our head boss Mr. Kashweeka refers to the company car as “the donkey”. For example:

“We are going to ride the donkey to Kazungula (the next village over).

We are going to see the chief. Maybe he will give us an ox. You see chiefs can do anything. Even an elephant roast.”

With all of these things being quite possible, I have found it difficult to pick up on what is meant literally vs. figuratively. As for now donkey = car.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Into Our Own

There are no events of solitude as thoughts will carve an influence, even in the most unsuspect places of emotion.

Page 177 of Into the Wild, almost at the end of the book. Sitting outside on the strangely smooth concrete step of our back porch and enjoying the fresh air of the last few hours of daylight and faint sounds of neighbors daily lives, rooster calls and chicken rustles. A day of staying home trying all remedies to cure my sore throat and slightly lethargic attitude.

After the nauseating fullness of consuming a peanut butter sandwich, I have come to this conclusion: You do not necessarily need to venture into the wilderness to find the sense of peace, exploration and wholeness. The isolated inspiration found in the pages of this book and more easily trotted on the trail. No. It is within my power, our power, to create this within our own daily life. It is within our personal control to look at the day with as many possibilities and live the lust of adventure to the fullest of each experience. To take on mundane challenges of live with as much vigor as the mountainside. With this, purpose and sanity are found in the civilization of reality to which the mind has the power to introduce the unknown. We are free. It is time we start living in the breeze of our movements. Abandon the self-imprisoned bars of norm, shackles of structure. To travel down the path. To make our own path even if it is not always over uncharted territory, into the so-called wild, through mud, ice or snow. It is within us to find wonders even in the regular. The most of each step in concrete or earth.

To banish the word struggle from our vocabulary and forge forth our own relationship with the nature of our surroundings and inner knowing of the self.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Unfettered Freedom

Photo Credit: Thomas Parente

“The environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensory austere, esthetically abstract, historically inimical…Its forms are bold and suggestive. The mind is beset by light and space, the kinesthetic novelty… To the desert go prophets and hermits; through deserts go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find reality.”

-Paul Shepard, Into the Wild

Ke Bokae "How Much"

Photo: Faisal B.

Ntema often talks about how life is a debt and everything you do to pay for it. I would argue the more idealistic view that lift is a celebration. Perhaps because of the many privileges I have been given. Conceivably because this is what I have to believe while still in the search. The hope that you can find a way to live for happiness. With no strong evidence I lost the case. Perhaps he is right. Life is not always cakes and streamers, balloons and butterflies. You still have to pay for the party.

Life is a debt. You either confirm to its premiums a means and installments; anyhow so ever you makth or wisheth, the best remedy to channel all your energies to the best ability and conform to your preferences and needs thereabout.

And so I challenge you to ask. Not what can you purchase, not how much can you get, not what can you attain. But, how much are you willing to give? Are you willing to live your life as a debt?