The Miraculous Mara

The Miraculous Mara

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated,often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.

“The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. 

‘Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind –

“and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

– Mark Jenkins (perhaps the American artist born in Alexandria, Virginia 1970, who is most known for his street installation art with box tape)  SAM_2883

I am uncertain which is greater, the travel itself, or perhaps the traveler.   Whenever I go to a new place, I think the greatest change is inside myself.  It is the experience I seek, not the mere accumulation of images.  But the mere 2-D accumulation of images is all I really have in physical form to share… that and a few quotes written by those more artistically verbal than I.

“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.”     – D. H. Lawrence (English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist 1885-1930)

So goes our trip to the Massai Mara with our friend Monique and her family.  Her husband, Agostino, is a well-seasoned safari guide and now operates his own company, Lokenjen.  Click on that word and check them out, particularly Monique’s photography!  Yannick, her very charming 3 year-old son, is also a seasoned safari expert.

You will get a much more personalized and real experience with Agostino than with the big companies operating out of the Serena hotel with their shiny new Land Rovers and clean, well-appointed people sitting upright, donning tourist safari hats, slathered with imported bug sprays and sun screens, gently cradling their expensive Nikon & Fuji cameras.

“If seeing sights is your kind of travel, then you, my good sir, are no traveler.”

I am a passionate believer that going off-road in life with a knowledgeable person is far superior to traveling the established routes, tourist or otherwise.   Giraffes off-road

     This is the “off-season” in the Mara, and Agostino quips that the animals are never off-season, but only the tourists.  This “off-season” weekend brings us amazing off-road things.  While Agostino tells me, “honestly we were just ‘lucky,’” I am amusingly reminded of Oprah’s version of Seneca’s (ancient Roman philosopher dude) sentiment along the lines:  “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.”

Agostino provided the skill & opportunity….and Marco, a Maasai, provided the years of eagle-eye preparation.

Marco is a traditional Maasai and a trained guide, thanks to a visionary who realized a kind of inequity in this land of the Maasai where the people were losing the capacity to sustain a livelihood on their own land.  Marco accompanied us as we took game drives to seek out the things you see below so that Agostino could concentrate on the task of driving rather than capsizing.   Monique’s skill and camera are so much better than mine, and I hope to provide a link to her photos at some point, but these are my humble offerings of our truly breathtaking experience in the wilds of East Africa.  My elephant and ostrich photos apparently did not make it.

We had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Olly, kind of newly weds (2010) and fellow adventurists on a year-long road trip from Australia to the UK.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber (Austrian-born Jewish philosopher 1878-1965).

I experienced the most inexplicable sense of being safe amongst these raw and uncivilized animals.   The baboons visiting in the early morning hours to steal our stuff didn’t even concern me.  The torrential rains at our Aruba Mara Bush Camp did not disturb me.   It was a peace and calm that I cannot describe, but that every human, especially city dwellers, must experience.

Video sometimes helps understand what words cannot convey.   The King of the Mara and The Cheetah Four

We bid you adieu from the Mara …SAM_2953

3 thoughts on “SAFARI 101

  1. I enjoyed your quotes but what I enjoyed most were your own thoughts, which were deep and wonderful. You have made me begin to ponder the thought of the traveler being changed and gaining experience and not merely images. I am inspired. It is not merely our travels that should be viewed this way, but life itself. I am so glad you were able to have this wonderful experience. I for one would not feel as comfortable as you with a cheeta munching on his lunch right next to my vehicle. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I can connect with your sense of peace and calm in such a raw, natural state. I would have loved to have shared it with you, but thank you for sharing with me (and Bri.) Hugs!

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