I just returned from a trip to South Africa with my two sons. I wish I could do it over again, not to change anything or do it differently. Yet..if only I could experience the whole epic adventure again..and again..and again.
In the meantime I’ve brought Africa back with me.
By that I mean I’m intending Peace–the peace that happens when you have nothing you have to do except watch a hippo slowly walk across the sand, one huge foot at a time, and slowly lower itself into the Letaba River. The hippo will stay submerged in the cool water like this all day with only its two round humps of eyes showing and you can stay too, just watching, just being there. Or wherever you are right now, watching hippo eyes.
I’m intending Happiness, the feeling you had as a child, the kind that makes you laugh at anything, like when you turn the corner and come upon a group of six young African maids in crisp, laundered uniforms at the foot of the stairs in a Polokwane hotel. They laugh aloud when you tell them they look pretty, and say you look pretty too, making tears come to your own eyes then and whenever you remember that hot morning, that corner of the stairs, those lovely dark faces laughing with you.
I’m intending Awe, the majestic sensation of watching a pride of lions saunter by in a line. You count them one-by-one, ten lions in all, pacing intentionally and very slowly along a grassy ridge at dusk. “They’re hunting,” says the expert Kruger Park guide. “The females are taking the young males out for their first hunt.” You realize you aren’t breathing and make yourself take a breath. You can do it now. Just breathe.
And finally Gratitude, the abject gratefulness of a privileged American, getting what Africans have in their bones, their acceptance of life, of how close we are, all of us, to each other and to the animals. How amazing to realize we both love and protect our offspring. You know that when you repeatedly see adult elephants, giraffes, and white rhinos in the bush hover over those fabulous curious babies of theirs. You watch the adults stay close to their young, guiding them away from the road and you, sitting in rented cars, jeeps and SUVs, exclaiming and holding out your cameras or cell phones, attempting to to capture it all forever.
I’m bringing back Africa with me. Yes, it was the trip of a lifetime. How fortunate I am it was mine.
12 thoughts on “I’ve brought back Africa with me”
Chris Goslow says:
Thanks again, mom. It was indeed a fine trip, and a privilege to be a part of. Great post and pictures.
Lynn Caffrey says:
Margaret, thanks for sharing a bit of the wonder you experienced. How amazing.
Rick Knee says:
It’s nice having experiences so wonderful that we’d like to be able to relive them. I echo Lynn’s thanks.
Cathleen Caffrey says:
Sounds wonderful. I hope I get to hear more.
Also, thanks for the call and sorry I missed the hot chocolate. Another time soon, I hope.
Rose Marie Wallace says:
As you bring back Africa, you have left your essence there in return..that expanding circle of life. Isn’t life sweet? Can’t wait to hear more details.
Mary Pat Brennan says:
Beautiful, Margie….you clearly ‘got’ Africa. It is a privilege. Love, MP
Kristina Strömberg says:
Margaret, my dear friend what a wonderful trip you have made together with Chris and Jonas, in your writing I can see for my inner eye what you are writing about. It must have been amazing to watch the hippo and everything els. I feel like the whole trip for you was like a contemplation or to be, just be and breath in the beauty of Africa. Lots of love and light, Kristina, Mitakuye Oyasin
Mary Helen Hough says:
Margie, Thanks for sharing. What a lovely opportunity for you and the boys to be together for such an adventure. I bought your book Dreamers and I can’t wait to read it. Mary Helen Hough
Laura Bergang says:
Hi Margaret, I’ve just done a quick perusal (now that’s a word I don’t often use, but since we were talking about words…..) of your website and I am impressed! I too was in Africa, Tanzania, in 2010 about one month after I retired! What a wonderful experience, but I am sure quite different from yours (I was traveling alone, but with a group—Overseas Adventure Travel. And I read that you went to Hunter College for graduate work (?). I am from Brooklyn! I’m off to Pt. Isabel, the best dog park, maybe in the whole world! So sue me, I am prone to exaggeration!!! Take good care, Laura
Margaret C. Murray says:
THANK YOU so much for your reply to my Africa post of 9 years ago!!! As I reread my post, I realize you’ve brought Africa back to me! Yes, I love Point Isabel and go there often, as I live in Pinole, very close by. My year at Hunter College, English Grad School was a real experience too. Brooklyn is a trip I have barely explored but I can see you know well. I just read Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, about the NY era I remember.
I’m having a Solstice Reading on Zoom at the Richmond Public Library on December 21st. Do join me. See writewordspress.com for more.
Laura Bergang says:
Some nerve! I just wrote to you and the site rejected my message saying that I was repeating myself, or something like that! I just told you I visited Tanzania in 2010 and what a wonderful experience that was. And you mentioned Hunter and I told you I am from Brooklyn! Won’t write more in case I get REJECTED again!!!
Margaret C. Murray says:
Automation is infuriating, isn’t it! THANK YOU for your comment. I’d love to hear about your Africa trip.