One of many stories that didn’t make my blog in real time is the one about the visiting buffalo. And it was magical.
The Ngorongoro Crater is, well, a huge crater, with all sorts of wildlife on the crater floor, and in the hills surrounding it. We visited in dry season, but there was still plenty to see, with animals taking advantage of the dwindling water sources. Our lodge was perched on the edge of the crater, with a view over it, a simply stunning setting. The rooms were a bit lack-luster in comparison with the rest of the lodge, but still comfortable, with huge windows.
I decided to sleep with the curtains open, giving me a view of the night sky, drifting off into a peaceful slumber. Until around 3:00 a.m. This sound… what in the hell was it… not quite a scraping sound, somewhat mechanical, but not a set pattern. Who would be doing work at this hour… and then “BAM!”, something bumped very loudly into the windows and I turned to look and saw the silhouette of a massive buffalo munching on the grass outside my window. The sound I heard was the ripping of grass as he munched along. I noticed that there was a small red light in my room coming from my camera battery charger, and I’m not sure if that is what caught his attention, or if he just knocked his horns on the glass while eating. I didn’t dare move, as I was sure he could see into my room, and didn’t want to startle him further by getting up. So I just laid perfectly still and watched him, realizing that this was as close as I’d ever be to a buffalo, probably about 5 meters separating us, if that, and I could just feel the power of this massive animal, even through the glass. It was thrilling, yet also very calm. I watched him for about 15 minutes, just laying there in awe of the whole thing. Eventually someone in the next room turned on a light, and off he went.
The next morning I told my fellow travelers and our guide about it, and they of course wanted to know if I took a photo. I mentioned the camera light and that I was too concerned that the light from my phone camera would irritate the animal, so I opted to not try to capture it beyond my memory. As we left the hotel and were driving away, we came across a large buffalo making his way down from the hills by the lodge, and I was pretty sure that he was the same one. It was a fitting end to the story, this silent exchange.
A little over a year ago I was introduced to the metaphor of tracking as a way to find your life’s purpose, and since I had already tuned into this way of thinking without fully realizing it, it was a perfect kickoff for my travels, and for this life change. This never was just about taking a sabbatical. It’s not just a vacation. It’s a life shift. I still don’t think various people in my life get that, and that’s ok. Because this isn’t a journey of external validation, meaning convincing others of anything. It’s choosing a path that is more aligned with my true self. And no, this isn’t a metaphor for my personal life, either. Trust that if I had any personal life claims to make, I would have made them a long time ago — I’m still all about the men, people. It’s just about changing my life so that it’s more in line with spending my time on Stuff That Matters instead of Stuff That Doesn’t Matter. We all have different versions of what this is for ourselves, and for me I’ve known for some time that I have a passion for the natural world, conservation, and travel.
My trip to Europe and Africa were all about this, combining my life long desire to see these places with my interest in the history and culture, and in the case of Africa, the amazing geography and animal world that is unlike any other place. And now that I’m back in the States, I’m starting to look into spending time at some animal sanctuaries, following this track that has only gotten stronger since I decided to follow it.
I’m currently house and pet sitting in Seattle for friends of friends, staying in their lovely home, which has given me a chance to settle back into life in the States at my own pace, with a few little furry friends to keep me company at the same time. In a couple weeks I will head south to visit family and friends in Oregon and California, and will likely check out a few animal reserves on that trip. I’m also looking into one in Utah, as it has a program that would give me some more great experience, and help me learn more of what I need to learn to determine if this is something that I want to continue to pursue.
So that’s what’s next. WHEE!