As promised, Mom + Dad gave us our second honeymoon – in the wild and under African skies. A few weeks after our much anticipated arrival in South Africa, we were swept off the farm en route to a local game reserve – Lalibela, an Ethopian word meaning “for whom the bees have foretold greatness.” Whatever that means, I guess the bees were right… Lalibela was simple greatness. As we pulled up to the check-in “hut” our bags were quickly removed from the bakkie (truck) and the bakkie itself almost drove off on its own. Already, we had been convinced, these people were going to treat us like royalty. We were made to sign indemnity forms acknowledging that we understood the inherent dangers that may lay before us, using words like “bodily harm” and “death.” Wait, I thought this was suppose to be a honeymoon!
After check-in, we were led by the faint sounds of tribal music through the noise of a xylophone, we waited amongst this entertainment before we were loaded into a van and carted off to the Tree Tops, the name of our camp, and quite literally the tree tops. We were served cocktails at the front door, and led to our rooms, excuse me, tents. These tents came in the form of hardwood deck floors, giant beds dressed in white linens, a private porch and a beautiful shower overlooking the trees filled with bushbuck, just waiting for an opportunity to peek at you while bathing – as rude as it sounds, it was really quite romantic. The one object in this castle of a tent kept us connected to the reality of the wild surrounding us … a handheld fog horn on either side of the bed incase the moment arose for you to alert fellow camp dwellers that you were about to be eaten by a lion!
The following 3 days were filled with 5 star meals served on beautiful china, drinks served poolside on linen clothed trays, wildlife entertainment from the benches of land rovers, late night lion chasing (I’ve never actually heard a lion roar, it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Add complete darkness to this scenario and you will convince yourself that he is sitting behind you in that land rover!), fireside drumming, and sundowners on a deck with elephants collecting their own refreshments below.
We were surrounded by raw, untouched life – wildlife. There were the odd spaces of time where I was caught off guard and left in a state of reduced sensibility and stated, “Holy Crap, this wildlife is, like, life in the wild, and we’re here for entertainment!” Sounds silly, I know, but think about it. You know when you see something you consider normal, and quite mundane, but suddenly in a moment of utter surprise you realize, “Woah! That’s really not that normal at all.” Like when you say someone’s name over and over again until it sounds weird, and you ask yourself, “Wait, do I know this person?” Anyway, my point is … the whole experience was quite overwhelming, and it left us speechless.
This was probably one of those moments….
Close enough to hear a lions breath as he walked through darkness … I didn’t need one of “those moments” to realize the situation I was in. No, it was very apparent in itself.
Not to mention the endless moments of utter amazement and complete awe with the raw beauty that Africa beholds. There is one thing I will never regret, and that is the knowledge that I have left my heart in Africa. And there it will remain, dormant and patient, until I return to awaken it with, yet another African adventure.