When you hear of African Safaris, the image often conjured up is that of a fierce lion or cheetah. A buffalo or a leopard will also do in terms of Safari experiences. This past week I went to two small game reserves in South Africa. I am not a big fan overall of these experiences as these seem unnatural to me and I feel fake. At the first game reserve we went to, the animals seemed posed. I most certainly did not feel any kind of bond with the majority of the animals we came across.
I did love the giraffes, however. Giraffes remind me of my childhood. My mom had this fascination with certain animals. I never got why other than she was a bit kooky. And her kookiness was ok with me as it was endearing. We owned a turtle and I don’t know why. She fed the stray dogs in the neighborhood. She absolutely loved penguins and kangaroos. My trip to Melbourne was filled with nostalgia for my mom’s kooky love of penguins and kangaroos. I must have snapped a 1,000 photos of the kangaroos in the wild. I think that perhaps deep down I thought she could still see them somehow and she would be happy. She also loved giraffes and monkeys. She would often sing that “hey hey we’re the monkeys” song. I never really ever watched the Monkeys show but I sure do know that theme song quite well.
On this trip to South Africa, I felt my mom’s presence when we went to the reserves. In one, most of the animals just seemed bored with life. Then as the vehicle winded through the reserve, we came across giraffes deep in the trees far away. We must have spent a good twenty minutes just staring at them from far away before we moved in closer and then they closed in on us. They were darlings just munching away and kicking up those long legs of theirs. My mom probably would have cried at this sight and experience. Even if she had not gone, she would have loved to look at my photographs and comment on how lucky I was as well as how deserving I was to have gotten all these experiences. She would have been proud of me hanging with the giraffes. Isn’t that strange. and sad? Well, to me it is sad. She died too young, in my opinion. I had hope to take her on a grand trip or two. Sadly, I never got that chance. Thus, I try to enjoy all my trips as much as I can.
The next day, we went to St Lucia Estuary and Cape Vidal. We frolicked in the Indian Ocean and had a picnic. While at the picnic we had a great group of guests. A bunch of awesome, non-scared, extremely curious monkeys joined us. My mom would have definitely been in tears from both the sheer joy and from the laughter of it all. My son thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it is hard to not feel his joy. I felt he was channeling, in part, her love of the animals.
The monkeys and the giraffes were most definitely the cherry on top of this trip.