Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Monday, 17 September 2007 – Serengeti NP

I still haven’t gotten my head around the idea that I AM ACTUALLY IN THE SERNGETI! My dreams always placed me here, but I never thought it would become reality. Mom says I need to blog more about my feelings when I do these reports…

I guess I’m blessed to have seen this beautiful place. Maybe part of the fantasy about it has been the idea that, in the 21st century, there really are no earthly unexplored frontiers. I wish there were new horizons to discover, accessible to me. There aren’t any more. But THIS IS. It is a new discovery for me. And that’s part of what I feel when I think about Africa, and the Serengeti in particular. The overwhelming sense of awe in being here. I don’t recall the last time I felt so content, just looking at the sky. An incredible blue in contrast to the greens and browns of the savannah.

We woke up to some wonderful natural sounds. At about 6 am we heard hyenas howling in the distance. Although that was a great experience, it was preceded by the European couple next door, answering the basic of human needs (and no, not food or shelter). Not exactly something I expected to hear, but at least it wasn’t someone we knew…

We ran a bit late this morning, so breakfast was just a bowl of cereal and some coffee. We again dropped off laundry, and headed to the bus at 8 for a four hour drive. (The laundry service was outstanding. I might have mentioned that before, but I’ll say it again. Next time, I’m packing lighter, and taking advantage of the amenities.)

Not but 5 minutes out, on the road to the park proper, we saw an African porcupine. It’s nocturnal, so this was a rare sighting. It is BIG! I had no idea they got that large. (That was really exciting, to see one in person. I’m quite giddy at this point.) Now I can imagine what that fight last night looked like. And the quill is considered a game trophy, along with the feather of a guinea fowl.

A bit later we saw another jackal, and eventually we came across a beautiful male lion sitting on a kopje. It has a sort of gray mane. Probably a much older male. Again the coat is just beautiful.
Still no leopard sighting, though we continued hunting. So we went over to the soda lake and met tons of birds. We turned back and not too far away was a beautiful lioness, just laying down. The area had a little bit of water in some small streams and pools. She got up, stretched, and walked over to the pool. First one leap, then another, and a drink. She looked so serene drinking the water. We noticed she was probably nursing. Sure enough, she moved to the other side and up a hill, to rest. Probably the cubs were up there.

We had visited the rhino information center earlier. This is where we learned about conservation efforts, and how the TZ officials, together with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (I hope that’s right), work on tracking and protecting the rhino throughout the Serengeti.

At about lunch time I started feeling a bit off. I ate just a little at the lodge, then went straight to the room. I had taken some Pepto during the drive, to help with the discomfort. I was probably crashing from the excitement and the food. I was asleep pretty quickly.

Let me say, there is never much time to rest. I guess this is a good thing, but I didn’t expect then when planning for the trip. I was pretty sure that we’d have a few hours every afternoon. Although we didn’t get the time generally, until this point I never really felt it. I think excitement takes you a long way.

Is there any way to explain to people how I felt about this trip? It really is a life-changing experience. You know, I’ve never been a great salesman, but I know the key is being passionate about what you’re selling. And when you’re passionate, you just start getting excited and want to share with anyone who will listen. I still do that to this day. I try and share whenever I can. And I think about the trip all the time. I want to tell all the birds, and animals, and trees, how much I love them, and how much I miss them. There’s a favorite song of mine, Find Your Grail. It’s all about focusing on what you want, finding that one that to help you through the tough times, and seeking it out. That’s your grail. Well, I always wondered what my grail was. And I found it. Africa.

I’ll continue soon with the incredible story of the evening (with pictures). Anyone reading this, please don’t hesitate to comment!


Anonymous said...

Joey V -
Thanks for finally getting your blog up and running again. We have been patiently waiting!


Anonymous said...

Absolutely my favorite thing is seeing an email from you!! I downloaded 'Find Your Grail', great song. I just can't figure out what the European couple was doing next door?!?!
Jennifer W.

Anonymous said...

Joey! Love the blog!

Carol H

Joey V said...

Thanks guys! I'm glad you are enjoying it. Sorry I took so long to get back - too many thngs going on.

Jennifer, Find Your Grail is just awesome. It's amazing that such a, frankly, meaningful song is found in such an hysterical comedy as Spamalot.