I’m coming up on the end of my second week in Antelope Park, and it’s going by far too quickly. Our days are full of various work activities, starting at 6:30 a.m. and wrapping up by about 6:00 p.m. My days have included lion walks, cub sitting, elephant walks, enclosure maintenance and cleaning, water refilling for the various enclosures, and helping out with whatever else needs to be done, such as painting and other maintenance. The lion walks are particularly active in the day and a half before their feeding (every three days at this age), where they engage in a fair amount of stalking of prey and make a valiant effort at trying to capture something. So far, Alika, the lone female of the four walking lions, has made one kill of a small mongoose that her brother, Africa, chased down.
Starting the new year in Africa is something that I won’t soon forget. We went to the Victoria Falls Carnival, which is a musical festival with fantastic bands, and had a great time. In between stage setups for each band, we’d sing a round of “black, white, brown, whatever” — an anthem of sorts to a common humanity across all people, and I loved it. It’s really something to be in this place and witness such unity; even if we have a long way to go to have complete unity world-wide, when I see things like this, it warms my heart and gives me hope that it’s possible.
This was my first Christmas away from home, spending it with my international volunteer family, and it was a great time. It was fun to be in a place south of the equator, where the seasons are flipped from what I’m used to, and rather than having a cold holiday, it was quite hot. And it’s the first holiday that I’ve spent with lions, so that made it extra special.
It’s been another amazing week here, and I’m still in a bit of disbelief that I’m actually in this place that I’ve dreamt about for so long. Seeing just a small part of Africa has made me want to expore even more, and I’m so glad that I booked a full two months here, as it has allowed me to visit some of the other locations that Lion Encounter, ALERT, and African Impact serve, as well as fit in some adventures during our free time.
It has been a life-long dream to visit Africa and see this amazing continent, ideally as a volunteer, rather than just a vacation, and so when I heard about this type of opportunity (thank you to Sylvia and Katherine), it was just too perfect to pass up. I started my planning earlier this year, all before my trip to Europe. My three weeks back in the States passed very quickly, and my journey to Africa was three flights across three days, leaving on Saturday, December 5th to get here on Monday, December 7th. The first week has been packed full of amazing experiences!
This is my final week of preparation before I fly off to Africa to meet up with the volunteer organization that I’ll be working with for a couple of months! I hope to be able to post periodic updates here, depending on the reliability of internet connectivity. In the meantime, for those who are curious about what I’ll be doing, you can read all about the two programs that I’ll be working with in Zimbabwe: