I started my Earth Day by carrying a nearly six month old lion cub from the bush to her enclosure, something we would normally never do. She had gotten separated from her three other cub mates, and as the leader of the group, I believe that she was “doing her job” to stay in the bush in an attempt to find them, not realizing that they had been back safely in their enclosure for quite some time. Once she was located and I made my way to her, she stopped running and hissing at others and came to me with calls and nuzzles of recognition. After realizing that she was too stressed to follow me as she normally would, I resorted to carrying her, initially out to the trail hoping she would follow, but she again retreated to the bush, so that meant carrying her the whole way, and I can assure you that a cub of that age is pretty heavy, so it was quite a workout.
My first week back in Victoria Falls passed pretty quickly, and I got a little better each day, now recovered from my African Tick Bite Fever adventure. I’m likely going to stay on an antibiotic a little longer, just as a precaution against any potential future pathogen nastiness, but what I also understand is that there are no guarantees of anything either way. I honestly feel like I’m going to be just fine, but a couple more weeks of doxycycline won’t hurt, beyond having to eat yogurt as they only real accessible probiotic available, which I’ve never liked. Save the suggestions on various brands and flavors and magical formulas — life is too short to try to like something that I just don’t. And yogurt is on that list, save the frozen kind.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks since I last posted, with many changes since then. Let’s see, where to start…
After a lot of thought, I decided to go with the original idea for my internship of spending time in three of the lion project locations: Antelope Park, Victoria Falls, and Livingston. So I just wrapped up two months at Antelope Park in the centrally located area of Gweru, Zimbabwe, and now I am back in Victoria Falls in western Zimbabwe for a couple of months. After this I will visit the Livingston, Zambia lion project for a couple months to wrap up my six months internship.
Celebrating my birthday in Africa was a bit surreal. The longer I’m here, the more of it that I want to explore, since I have yet to see much of the continent outside of Zimbabwe, save for a day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, and a couple trips over to Livingston, Zambia while I was in Victoria Falls. I’ve been thinking of how to include some visits to Tanzania and Kenya, in particular, to see the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Masai Mara while I’m still in Africa, as well as to see more of Zimbabwe, as it’s said to be one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, and from what I’ve seen so far, I can attest to that.
After a quick trip to the States and back, I arrived back at Antelope Park in Gweru, Zimbabwe on Monday the 8th. The jet lag this time really did me in, and it took a couple days in Seattle to get on local time there, only to turn around a few days later and get back on a plane for two and a half days to return to Africa, where it took the better part of a week to recover from the jet lag on this end. Perhaps not my most brilliant move, but I was keen to jump right into my internship and hit the ground running, which proved to be no problem, as there is plenty to do here.
We’ve been kept very busy, so my blog updates have taken a back seat, and now that I’m halfway home with a layover in London for a half day, I have a bit of time to post an update and the most recent photos. Enjoy!
Within short order after arriving in Africa, I knew I was smitten. It gets under your skin and in the corners of your mind, swirling around in a deliriously wonderful way, with equal parts grit and glory. Years ago I used to binge-watch this program on Animal Planet called “Big Cat Diary” that followed three researchers around as they monitored the large cats, specifically lion, leopard, and cheetah. I would daydream at length of having such a life, and repeatedly put it in the Impossible Bucket, as my own life had taken a different path. And then a few years ago, something changed; in part due to various events, such as the passing of one of my good friends, and in part just my own inner calling. I always felt that I was very awake — very atune to both my outter and inner worlds, yet the deepest internal voice was overshadowed by the more immediate practical voice of the “have to’s” in life. This is how I was raised. A daily mantra of life being difficult and hard work. Joy was found in the glowing edges of the setting sun of twilight on a day well-spent.
I’ll share more details later, just a quick update to say that I’ve been accepted into an internship here, and since I don’t tend to do anything small, I opted for the longest stay of six months. What the what?!?!!!!
Yep. I will still be flying back to the U.S. as planned, arriving on February 2, but only staying a few days in order to re-pack for a longer stay and to take care of some business before leaving again on the 6th to return to Africa.
Crazy. Yet brilliant. Whee!