Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Darwin weighs in

    My gaze flicked the horizon for tell-tale signs of the animals that we had been surrounded by whilst in the Okavengo Delta. Occasionally the fleeting form of an antelope of some sort or another would bound out of view. My face was beginning to hurt from all the smiles that had dwelt there over the past few days. I was in awe at the beauty of Botswana’s back country. From the inherent safety of our mokoros, I reflected back on our time in the Delta. One day we had been taken to a dry plain within the vastness of the swamp, where we had explored our surroundings on foot. The day started early, as decent game viewing was only accomplished at dawn. While feeling the twinges of apprehension at exposing ourselves to the dangers of the wilds, and protected by the merest of cautions offered by our guides, we set forth with cameras in hand to capture our surroundings. Elephants and giraffes grazed ahead of us, not quite far enough to be called distant. Wildebeest moved along with herds of zebras. I refused to believe that anything as dangerous as a lion or hyena would cross our path as we walked along on foot. By the time the heat of the day sent the animals into hiding for siesta, we too were ready to seek out our shelters and rest. Later in the afternoon, we bathed in groups in the warm waters of the Okavengo River. Even close to camp, we heeded the caution that was put forth. More stories of crocodiles coming to snatch us from our feet, kept us close to shore. We had gone back to a primordial time, where survival of the fittest was a fact of life. This reality was not lost on us, as even Darwin joined us around the campfire at night. From the security of memory, I drifted.

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