Monday, October 18, 2010

Reflections on Africa

We are back in London and, over a tapas dinner last evening, were asked: what was the most memorable happening of the trip? We all mulled this over for a moment and concluded that there was no single event. Instead, we reflected on several memories that will remain with us for a lifetime. These vignettes are unforgettable:

Our first sunset in Zambia as the soft glow of light illuminated the still waters of the wide Zambezi River and hippos bellowed in the background. We sat, quiet, sipping our drinks until darkness enveloped us and only the unfamiliar sounds of the African night remained.

The massive elephant who strood through our camp in Botswana as though we didn't exist until he stood before his favorite palm tree. When he braced his mammoth forehead against the trunk, his gray body rippling with strength beyond comprehension, we were awed when he rocked the tree liKe a twig to shake loose the fruit. I stood just feet away and have never felt so insignificant.

The elephant herd we encountered that swung into protective formation, shielding the calves, as we approached. I don't know if there is a more intimidating vision than bull elephants, ears flared, standing shoulder to shoulder with their wide eyes fixed on you.

A male lion, its face and mane streaked with blood, crunching through the bones of an impala carcass. The dark yellow of the lion's eyes were transfixing, at once both beautiful and frightening.

The powerful stride of the rhinos, their huge bodies like ambulatory plates of armor, as they powered across the savanna. Their tall horns, so often poached, bobbed like the prows of ships as they plodded through the bush.

The leopards, every one we saw, were prowling creatures of grace and beauty. Their mating was a thing of primal sensuality that was miraculous to behold. That stunning fur rippling in the sunshine as the cats circled, then joined, their growls and roars shattering the quiet was something impossible to forget.

And the people. We will not forget how gracious were our hosts. Every day was a delight as they shared their smiles and their knowledge. We are mindful off the crises that confront Africa at every level--socially, economically, politically. Our glimpses of abject poverty in Zimbabwe, the fleeting glances of impoverished townships on the outskirts of Cape Town, were haunting images. One can only hope that this situation will improve in a meaningful way for people who must struggle to survive on a daily basis.

We'll do another entry soon with our closing thoughts on this trip and post several more photos. Marc and I will enjoy our last cigar of the trip tonight and we'll all muse, once again, about our spectacular experience.

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