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New Colors

“I’m very sorry Madame, you may not go to your tent, the elephants are near,” says my escort at the Okavango Delta Lodge. Peering through the bushes I see the two of the majesties who rule this land, grazing next to tent #15. What will happen? I ask. “They could charge and we will have to run for our lives.” Fine by me, I can chill at the pool no problemo.
 
Later that day, I personally meet Her, almost eye to eye from my balcony. I watch in complete awe, as the tusks approach my tent, getting closer, until I back away and search for my camera. She wanted the leaves from a nearby tree, but I believe she came to welcome me to her world. I will never ever forget her eyelashes or the way she looked at me.
 
Touring South Africa awakened all my senses. Like me, this place has a turbulent past, a mixed present, an uncertain future and a burning desire for freedom. The need stand on our own two feet proud of the scars, ready at arms for what comes next. It is time to make peace with myself.
 
Coming here with purpose, I gave my all to this part of my journey. Conquering my fear of flying by soaring in a six seater Cessna 1000 ft above the ground, my palms no longer break out in sweat on a plane. Climbed a granite mountain hand over hand on a metal chain, hiked a red desert sand dune at dawn repeating ‘you do not have vertigo’. Eating mystery meats and not caring how many flys just landed on my plate, pole canoeing in hippo waters, watching a lion feast on a zebra carcass, breathing deep meditative breaths at Victoria Falls.  Teaching Himba Tribe children to sing La Bamba and how to take selfies on my Iphone. Watching a teenage tribe girl squirm while her Auntie pulls her hair to add clay encrusted extensions for which she cannot refuse. Practicing yoga at dawn next to ostriches and screeching baboons. Giving up on trying to keep a manicure… These memories fill my head the same way the grains of sand and dust swirled around me, standing alone in the African desert.
 
Travelling for 20+ days, in an overland truck named Luther, like-minded people stow belongings in small lockers and hope for the best. It doesn’t matter where you are from; we are all here for an adventure. The spirit of Africa was very much alive on the perfect departure date, New Years Eve 2014. It is true that the people you meet on one’s travels can become lifelong friends, please; let me introduce you to some of mine.
 
To Rob, a zillion thanks for your generosity as my personal CapeTown host, you will always be a special part of me now, until we meet again. Mandla (Zimbabwe), Nomad Tour Boss, aka Wow man, I can still hear your laugh, you are an outstanding guide, thanks for the learning & discoveries. Shaun (CapeTown), our cook, you have the best smile in all of S. Africa. Francios (CapeTown), the Nomad everything man, on alert to help anyone, anytime. Jan (Germany), the fish magnet who can make anyone smile with his own. Lisa (Germany), so full of sunshine, rainbows & unicorn magic. Mike & Terry (Canada & Kenya), two of the most compassionate people one can ever meet. Oleg (Moscow), the extreme adventurer. Hanne & Toby (Norway), brother and sister travel companions, you two are an inspiration. Anna & Andre (Germany), so obviously in love with life and each other. Ray & Heather (Australia), world travelers, so generous, friends to all. Pingla (S. Africa) freedom fighter & a brilliant woman, honored to know you. Liv (Germany), so kind, you will always remind me of one of my Guru’s (Liz Gilbert). Aranee (Australia) & Naren, (UK) crazy fun cousins who just climbed Kilimanjaro! Anita, (Holland) a slice of Dutch sweetness. Fiona & James (Australia) best wishes for your new life in the states.
 
I have new vivid colors in my crayon box now. To say my time in South Africa changed me wouldn’t be sufficient; it is a part of me now, the inside part.
 
“You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
― Dr. Seuss

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