Friday, April 12, 2013

Life Post-Safari

My day bag still lies on the floor of the second bedroom, binoculars, camera and the unused pack of baby wipes still in it.  I notice it every time I pass through, it's just there open, ready to be topped off again and taken back out on a game drive.  I doubt I'll use that bag again for anything but a safari.  First, it's filthy dirty, and second, it's really not appropriate to lug anywhere but into a Land Rover for a day's worth of sitting, waiting and watching for wildlife.

And so life is post-safari.  I've been home nearly 8 weeks now and not a day, not an hour, goes by when I don't think back on it.  I've finished my photo album, gotten prints made and hung, and even put away most of my travel gear.  Except the day bag.  That sits there on that bedroom floor as a reminder of what was, and what will be again.

You see, safari has gotten under my skin like nothing else.  Never, ever, in a million years would I have thought that I could stop my Type A personality and get it to slow down to the point where sitting for over 2 hours to watch hundreds of elephants frolic and drink around a watering hole was so utterly enjoyable.  Or quite eagerly sit for over an hour waiting to see if a leopard would awaken, a family of cheetahs would hunt or if two sweet little lion cubs would come out of hiding after a pod of elephants passed by.  And what I wouldn't give to wake up in the middle of the night to hear a stampede of zebras run through the camp or a pride of lions roar across our camp to each other, just to remind themselves, and us, that they are there.

Couple the incredible animal experiences with the gorgeous landscape and the warm, sunny days and it really is nirvana.  I quickly learned to overlook the "being dirty" dusty and and sweaty feeling, the endless mosquito and tse tse fly bites and the less-than-ideal showering conditions as a trade off for what was otherwise nirvana.  I missed it all before I left it, and I miss it more as it starts to feel like a dream rather than an actual trip of a lifetime.

All this said, I've already started to lay groundwork for the "next" safari, most likely in 2014.  While I would love to revisit Tanzania and ride along with the same guide again, I remember what my guide in Russia told me: "Never try to repeat perfection, you will only be disappointed."  So I've started to investigate other countries in Africa, like Botswana, South Africa and Kenya.  I'd really like to try a volunteer vacation of some sort, and have found a lion research group that looks for volunteers like me.  It's something to fuel my passion and keep me motivated while I'm busy doing other things.

So the day bag will sit there, as is, waiting for me to go again.  Tanzania was indeed my first safari, but it most definitely won't be my last.

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