I wrote the following while sitting on a chair in the Massai Mara, a 1500 km sq conservancy home to many great an beautiful animals. The big five (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Water Buffalo and Rhino) and other creatures roam free and to say our presence was even noted by these animals would be big headed.
After an early morning game drive while I watched hippos bathing, Zebras wander and Giraffes graze, I journaled my random, wandering, somewhat connected thoughts:
What is our fascination with animals in the wild? Is it that Africa is where humanity began and there is very much a feeling of authenticity both from the animals and the people? It is easy to imagine this place as the beginning of the world: An untouched garden of Eden. Animals have the same tribal mentality, instincts and smarts that we we do. They too have evolved into species that maintain themselves, their children and their families. While their main object is survival, they too play, run, wallow, enjoy. With animals there is an increased amount of transparency: When they are too hot, they go in the water; when they are too cold, they huddle together.
We in the west have segregated ourselves from the animals, created a hierarchy which in fairness, we worked for. We evolved first…and with opposable thumbs…so we win. But here, in Kenya, people interact with and respect animals. Perhaps this explains the genuine place that Kenyans come from: I am sad, I cry; I am happy, I smile; I am scared; I run…or attack. This is not unlike us in the West but a lack of recognition and interaction with our environment has made selfish. We manipulate our environment to best suit us. While we have not yet controlled Mother Nature, we are trying our best.
Perhaps this is why people safari- To reconnect without roots (as cheesy as that sounds). Here, detached from wifi, my iPhone and my laptop, I feel as though I am able to experience a transparency that we so rarely allow ourselves at home. Nothing is hidden out here on the Mara: Everything is wide open. We look for human qualities in the animals (that lion cub is smiling at me) to personify this landscape and thus, this experience. Perhaps such a connection enables us to shed layers and return us to our roots- a baptism of sorts- or some sort of cleansing ritual. Perhaps Africa is coming home?
Even writing this it sounds cliche but there is something about the tranquility of the savannah that forces you to reflect on the complications of life and how simple it can be.