I had the best of intentions, I really did. After last year's safari, I thought that surely, I had gotten safari entirely out of my system and it was time to "move on" and "see the rest of the world". So I tried. I really did.
Over the course of the last 11 months, I saw more of southern California, parts of Texas I never thought I'd see, made a half dozen drives up and down Route 84 to NYC and even pulled off a triumphant return to my beloved Dublin with London as her companion. But it wasn't enough. It may never be enough. I think that safari has ruined me.
All of these trips were wonderful, full of great fun, spectacular art, legendary concerts, sumptuous food and even some remarkable vistas (Zuma Beach and the PCH, I mean you). Yet I was left at year end with a staggering list of travel stats that I posted to Facebook:
My 2014 in numbers:
I flew 30,964 air miles
Visited 5 countries and 8 states
Rode 876 miles on my bike
Saw 2 Tony-winning Broadway shows, 7 Morrissey concerts and 5 others ...
Took in 129 art exhibitions in 36 different museums
Said goodbye to one furry love and opened my heart to two more
Not sure what exactly is in store for 2015, but the bar is set high…
Yet I still had an itch, an insatiable hunger. And then it happened, friends of mine went on safari and came back. And told me about it. And when I saw the look in their eye, that sparkle that told me that they "knew" what it was all about, that they "got it" that aura that overtakes you that, unfortunately for rabid travelers is not very good news, means that safari has ruined them. Nothing else is as satisfying. I started to long for endless golden savannah with the turquoise sky with puffs of white cloud hanging out of them. Longing for the roars and chirps and croaks and giggles (hyena, I mean you) that happen all night long. Longing for the gentle, sing-song "Good morning Amy" from the kindly camp staff that I hear coming up the path to my tent long before the sun comes up; he wakes me with a thermos of hot chocolate and cookies carefully left inside the tent flap. And to hop out of bed, lather up in sun screen, bug repellent and dusty safari clothes to head out for a day of who knows what we'll find. You don't get that anywhere else. Not London, not Dublin, not Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin or even New York City.
And then I knew, I had to go back.
So I started talking with my last tour operator and she came up with a decent itinerary at a more than decent price, but something held me back. It was a desire to explore a bit more, see a different part of Kenya, meet new guides, see new camps and learn about new animal personalities. And so it was that I reached out to a different tour operator who put together a different, longer, more interesting itinerary, exploring a different park entirely and a different part of my beloved Maasai Mara. I'm awaiting the final itinerary and price, but this feels good.
It feels like I've almost scratched the itch.