Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Balm For The Soul

What is it that makes people fall in love with Africa? I still can’t put my finger on it and I’ve been travelling there regularly for thirty-five years. When I lived in England I thought maybe it is the wide open spaces and the towering sky. But then I moved to Australia and found that Aussies fall in love with the place too and you don’t get wider spaces and bigger skies than you do in Australia.

Maybe it’s just that our “developed world” lifestyle is so busy and stressful. An African safari is like some sort of calming drug. The gentle routine of travelling the wilderness in an open vehicle with the wind in your hair and the African sun on your face acts as a sort of balm for the soul. Then there is the huge adrenaline rush that comes with a close encounter with an elephant or a big cat, getting so close to a beautiful wild animal gives you the kind of high that is addictive. There is also the heightened anticipation of not knowing what you’re going to encounter behind the next bush, in the next gully or up the next tree.

On the other hand it could be the people. You’ll never meet happier, friendlier people or people with such generosity of spirit. An African smile truly brightens your day. I really don’t know what it is. What I do know is that each time I leave Africa something squeezes my heart as the plane leaves the tarmac and the dusty landscape slides away beneath the wings.

With some holiday destinations, you spend a couple of weeks there, you have a lovely time. You enjoy the culture, the food, maybe the beach, but you’re always glad to go home. A visit to Africa is never long enough.

One lodge I stayed in recently left a poem on my pillow one night next to a chocolate and a wildflower.

When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
The scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa
And you’ll not be right again
Till you can watch the setting moon
And hear the jackals bark
And know that they’re around you
Waiting in the dark.

When you long to see the elephants,
Or hear the coucal’s song,
When the moonrise sets your blood on fire
You’ve been away too long.
It’s time to cut the traces loose
And let your heart go free
Beyond that far horizon,
Where your spirit yearns to be.

Don't forget. Tonight - Thursday 4th November at 6.30pm, Maasai Warrior Sianga Kuyan will be speaking at Ucango Travel, Plaza Parade Shopping Centre, Maroochydore. He'll be promoting his charity - The Future Warriors Project and relating the problems faced by traditional Maasai people today. For more information phone Ucango Travel on 1300 822 646.

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