Across the Mara in the Serengeti

(The following post was written on August 20, 2014)

Mt. Meru, viewed from our cabin door at the Legendary Lodge in Arusha, in the picture below. As they say, objects in mirror are much closer than they appear. Mt. Meru view from cabin

After traveling today from Arusha, we are now in the Serengeti at a lodge deep in the bush. We did our first safari drive on our way up here. I admit that it truly is much much more than a glorified zoo. The landscape is amazing and full of magnificent wildlife. Lions, wildebeest, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, baboons, giraffes, hyrax, mongoose, gazelles, klipspringer, and a blue & red lizard that blazed our welcome mat … What did I miss? They say the elephants sometimes walk up to the tents in the evening, but I would feel extremely fortunate if that were to happen.

I took a nap this afternoon and had the most incredible dream. I was with our group standing around and a few giraffes were over yonder. One turned and started walking to our group. The guide said not to worry, this giraffe sometimes visits. It became clear as it came closer that it was entirely focused on me and walked through the group up to me, bending its head down close. It’s eyes became one huge eye, looking intently at me. When it was about a foot away it telepathed to me, “you have a good heart, big love, but not so much for giraffes.” I thought back to it “I think you are amazing.” And then started imagining stroking it down its head and neck and shoulders, feeling all this love for it. It brought its head closer and closer and I was trying to stay calm. When it was inches away I closed my eyes and then I felt these incredibly soft, huge lips kiss my cheek! I melted. It then nuzzled me and laid its head in my lap and I began stroking it with such wonder. It suddenly crossed its front legs and landed in my lap. At that point I was overcome with an intensity of emotion and started massively crying, and my sleeping physical body started breathing heavily to process it all. I woke up, gazed out at the landscape, and my mom arrived back to the tent a couple minutes later.

Wowowowowow. A love dream from Africa. My trip could end now and I would feel satisfied.

(The following was written the next morning…)

As I went of to sleep last night I saw the zebras dancing, the stripes on their hindquarters bouncing around, and animals climbing over the rocks, gathering for a party. The landscape is clearly already seeping into me.

(And later, after a long safari into the bush….)

We saw the wildebeest crossing of the Mara River today. It is intense and huge and dramatic. The wildebeests gather from a vast area and congregate by the river, roaming back and forth in a herd of many thousands. The melodramatic choreography of all of these animals pacing back and forth, down to the river’s edge, smelling the water, backing up, going upstream further, is everyone coming along? There are crocodiles and slippery rocks and dangers in crossing, but the migration dictates that they must cross. You cannot tell when they will actually take the plunge and it takes a long long time for one, just one, of them to actually make the commitment. Once one goes in, they will all follow. Well, at least A LOT of them follow. This is high drama in the African plains.

After waiting for maybe an hour to see if one was brave enough to dip their toe into the stream our guides decided that we could stop for lunch and observe from higher ground, ready to abandon our food to go watch riverside once they decided to cross. They set up tables and linens and buffet lunch for us, and we had sat down for ten minutes when suddenly they started clapping for us to immediately get back in the rovers since the crossing had begun.

Wildebeest crossingWildebeests are committed to crossing once the flow starts. Only a separation of mother and child will cause a reversal in direction for the bereft to find each other and rejoin. Today after five thousand or more crossed the rest of the herd decided to stop. Mystery. One animal was taken by a crocodile. A little difficult to witness.

We have really great guides that have eyes like hawks, able to see animals at a great distance and point them out to us. Our main guide is named Deus. Here at the camp several employees have clearly christianized names, the most unusual being Obeygod and Witness.

The energy of the land is very strong when I have time to be quiet and just tune in. The animals are so intriguing and mesmerizing, but the rocks, the huge rocks in the landscape all look like animals too. Most are rounded and look like hippos or lions or élan lying on the ground. How the guides are able to spot the mobile animals among all these stationary ones is remarkable. We learned a term used by the guides for this different species: ALT — Animal Looking Things.

Mom is doing great and getting a massage right now. I’m definitely attending to making sure she is cared for and safe. Everyone is attentive. We have regularly gotten the closest, safest accommodations. After dark here in the Serengeti you must be escorted by a guard to go anywhere. We are also above the mosquito level, which I think we are all grateful for.

Two more nights here, then we go into Kenya, to the Lewa Conservancy and the Maasai Mara Reserve.

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