The Last Sunset
by Christy Ihlo -- August 20th, 2012
My time in Tanzania is winding to a close. I some ways, I have been everywhere this summer, and in some ways, I have been nowhere. Thinking back over the last three months, I can think of a million things I will miss about this place, ….and a few I probably won’t! On the won’t list are: searching the bathroom for creepy eight-legged visitors before using it, the black mamba I saw in camp a couple of weeks ago (we made eye contact – it was a little unsettling), and tsetse flies! I hate tsetse flies!
But I also have a pletora of amazing memories and experiences that I will carry forever. From fun campfires with the Noloholo staff (we introduced the Maasai guards to marshmallows – that was a fun evening!) to endless coming of age celebrations steeped in traditon. Our pet leopard tortoise Aldo – our impromptu Fourth of July ice cream and popcorn feast – riding along in “Tammy” the ex-Serbian troop mover that has found retirement at Noloholo – pushing the Land Rover backwards down a mountain (sans road) hoping the engine would catch and it would start – the bushbabies! – a sunset at Lorkiman – teaching the Summer Camp kids to dance to “Cotton Eye Joe” – wonderful dinner conversations full of laughter – cooking Sunday brunch with Jen and Andrew (we have a three-way tie in my mind for best brunch – apple cinnamon pancakes, cheese dreams, and breakfast burritoes) – seeing that first lion image on a camera trap! – seeing a lion! – and a leopard! So many snippets of time to file away.
I became accustomed to my little tent – my little refuge. (And being my refuge it had some rules – namely for the spiders. And we are not talking about wimpy little spiders here – these were substantial spiders. There were acceptable places to hide and hunt on my tent. Near the door was not one of them. You break the rules, you die. Simple.) The whoop of spotted hyenas, once haunting, became comforting and the sound of crashing branches no longer incited fear and uneasiness. Eye shine in the distance was a curiosity, not a threat. I may even miss the morning alarm via the crowned francolin birds (then again, per-maybe-haps not).
I will never forget this land of contradictions, where old meets new and struggles to survive. This land where our ancestors took their first tentative steps on two feet and where millions of creatures tread today, both exotic and familiar. Where the landscape is dotted with thousand year old trees and the night sky blankets the earth with a million stars punctuated with swirls of the Milky Way. It is a humbling feeling to have felt so close to everything and yet so close to nothing all at once.