It is funny how I just realized that I spent all of 2012 living abroad. New Years day came and went, and I don’t think I even thought about this fact. But it is true – all of 2012 and then some. But I am slowly making my way back home. 4.5 more months to go. That seems crazy to me. I have no idea what I will really go back to or what is going to happen with my life, but that doesn’t curb my enthusiasm for the possibilities. I have dreams about getting off the airplane and seeing all my friends and family. (I also have dreams about eating bbq pork…) I think I am ready for a change. But I know that I need to live here, really be here for the next 4 months. I have a lot to give to this place and it still has a lot to teach me. So, here’s to the meantime
Category Archives: Animals
I’ve never really found Africa to be the simple, relaxed, and slow-moving place a lot of people say it is. Now, things go slow like buses, governmental offices, and paperwork. And people usually run late. But I always feel rushed and crowded and frustrated. Things are loud and people are constantly yelling at me. There are random people always knocking on the gate. But sometimes I can find some calm. This day was one of those times.
There is an obvious difference here between good shepherds and bad shepherds. If you drive a little outside of the city, you will start to see them everywhere. The good ones protect their flocks (whether they are sheep, goats, cattle, or camels) from dangers – like cars. But the bad ones, and there are many, will just let their flock walk right in front of cars. The people I ride with like to yell out the windows of the car and tell the shepherds they are being terrible, and then yell congratulations to the ones that do a good job. Side note – there are girl shepherds, not that many, but you see them well enough. I have never seen a bad girl shepherd, just saying.
And everyone thought it was silly of me to buy it. But you know what, I finally got to go on that safari and I totally rocked that hat. I will remember this day for probably the rest of my life. I did not see running wildebeests or watch a lion attack its prey, but, despite the lack of drama, it was still like having an encyclopedia come to life; like I was in the middle of the Discovery Channel.
I saw a great deal of beautiful animals that I wish I could show you through photographs. I was unable to purchase a zoom lens before I left, so I had to shoot with a 50 mm fixed lens. While being a great lens for portraits, it does not quite give me the ability to capture animals in their vast landscape well. Also, add the fact that you are riding – or more correctly, standing – in a topless jeep/van that is traveling off road and bumping up and down like crazy, everything did not look so great on film. But here are a few shots that can give you some idea of what it was like.
I grew up listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland and dreaming of Africa. I grew up and studied Anthropology and read all about different cultures in Africa – I even took an African Wildlife Management course (yeah, that one was for the Honors program, who really takes classes like that normally?) I grew up with an opinion of Africa that was hot, colorful, expansive, and filled with exotic animals. Also, with a special thanks to Simon, my view of dance and music was naturalistic, up-beat, and well, African.
As it turns out, those opinions have been crushed a little since I have arrived. It seems like the one country I found myself living in, is the country that doesn’t quite fit. My country, except for the “poor” part, is totally different than what I have read and heard about. It is not quite African, not quite Arabian, and not quite Indian all at the same time.
But…I have traveled south and found myself in what I imagine as Paul Simon’s Africa, Jane Goodall’s Africa, and Richard Leakey’s Africa. Here there are large expanses of land filled with crazy, cool animals. Woman wear bright colored clothing with funky patterns. The music has that “African” beat. And as I watched baby elephants run and play in the game park, I started humming “Under African Skies.”