The bigness of this experience finally hits me tonight during our last night in Tsavo. "The Sundowner," a Kenyan tradition of hiking up to a great spot to have drinks and watch the sun go down. A celebration of our trip. A celebration of the appreciation for each other. The land. And the lions.
Looking out at the vast Tsavo landscape while standing from a rocky outcrop called Lokidori. The horizon is visible in all directions. I realize what vast distances we've traveled on our game drives. I think of the shared connection of our group. All such very different people. From very different lives. Yet we are bound by this place.
I lie on a big, flat rock as the sun disappears. There is no sound. Life is still. Life is peace. Yet I am struck by this beauty and Africa's pure struggle. I truly believe this place--the birth of mankind is the ultimate contradiction. The struggle of disease. Poverty. Unemployment. Hunger. The suffering of the land. The wildlife.
She is sacred. Hurting. And she needs all of us more than ever.
I breathe in the expanse of sky that has cradled me for two weeks. I take in the birth of me. The me I've wanted to be for a long time. The sliver of moon hangs above me (upside down for us in the Northern Hemisphere,) showering me with light as the sun leaves us on our last day. The stone warms my back, Tsavo starlight twinkles in my heart.
Bruce says that many people are haunted by Kenya. And he's right.
I am haunted by this place.
I long to go home and share its power.
I know that will return to Africa--Kenya specially. I will return to the the purest air brushing my cheeks again. To hear the lions' roar and elephants' trumpet reverberating in my chest again. I want to be a part of a community here. To feel the smile of those I met. Simon, our guide, whose laugh and humility warm my heart. The other Simon, our steward, and his gentle, quiet, care and encouragement for me to use what little Swahili I had learned. (I was so thrilled to pass along some of my books to both Simons for their children...) Joseph and the guards, all so genuinely interested in talking. In knowing me. I am pained to leave them as well.
The staff and my team surrounded me like stars in the Tsavo sky. I am surrounded by safety. Completeness. Wonder.
What a true gift. Kenya. The sacred sunsets. sunrises. Taking gold and purple and weaving it throughout the layers of clouds and into my heart all at once.
The joy of laughing.
I have found a place of unguarded joy. True connection between people and place.