Sunday, August 11, 2013

What a World

  1. Africa, Eastern Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar. I saw animal mothers and children and natives with their children.
    Baby animals need very few hours to get on their feet and run with the herd in order to survive but many mothers stay close by, feeding, preening and being aware of danger near by.
    Natives seem to be too busy surviving from day to day themselves to pay much mind to their children. Th...ey do not hope, as we do, that our children's lives will be better than ours. Instead, they believe that the customs, rituals and lifestyles that have served their tribe for millennia are just as good for their children. So there is little progress.
    I wonder where all the aid for Africa winds up in real time. Many kids don't go to school. The concept of safe sex and condom use is misunderstood and misused. They don't inoculate their children and still are very suspicious of "modern" medicine often in favor of the tribal shaman or witch doctor. The mosquito nets are not used to prevent malaria with any regularity among the natives. Rather they call malaria the Acacia tree disease because people contract malaria while they are sitting under it and don't connect the fact that mosquitos do too.
    Women are the worker bees. They live incredibly hard lives physically, doing the major work of the tribe. And they are not a primary wife but rather share the distinction with other sister-wives. They sing and dance and have gorgeous smiles- all the time. There is no evidence of depression or feelings of unfairness concerning their life. I helped construct a hut out of cow dung and grass for the roof. Animals sleep inside with the people.
    Running water, sanitation, electricity are all nonexistent in the country and even in the cities it is unsatisfactory ( for us ).
    Mention is made continually of corruption and baksheesh is a way of life for everyone. I was even asked by airline security for tips.
    I will forever keep the image of forty giraffes slowing rising out of the early morning fog, the huge pink sun just rising, as they walk majestically in unison up over the rolling dry hills to stand together in chorus line fashion turning their long necks to gaze unthreatened and unthreatening all together as one entity at a bunch of white people viewing them from a Land Rover.
    I will keep in my memory the sound of five hundred flamingos rising in unison over a salt water lake in the Ngorongoro crater as they turn from black to shocking pink. A cloud of tulle.
    I will remember the leopard making a gazelle her kill only to have a lazy but wily male lion steal it way.
    Elephants in great numbers slowly decimating the woodland. I heard them chew. Hippos like giant boulders lying in a muddy pool. Zebras with markings like fingerprints racing across the Serengeti plains, friends with the wildebeasts. Moonsets of lavender and gold. Sunsets of pink and purple. The bird songs of mornings and the sounds of many types of animals rooting around my tent at night. Lights out!! That's kerosene lamps that will be carried away by hyenas, if they see the light.
    Again, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be able to live in this world and experience the wonders of this planet. From the buzz of big cities to the hush of the wild.
    Travel is the way to connect with people and animals, customs and cultures that are very different from our own. Perhaps one day we will benefit from these experiences and begin to treat each other as family. We all began in Africa.