Moments in Africa November 1, 2011Posted by jayocallahan in Adventures.
A breeze that frees us as we ride in an open-air van through the Kruger National Park in Africa. I sit feeling the warm breeze and have no responsibilities other than to feel the breeze and I must repeat this to myself over and over and over, since it is my tendency to carry invisible worries. I often carry the past as if it were great rocks in a sack on my back. But in the breeze I let go of the sack. I imagine being as empty as I was before I was born. Empty and free. I am empty and let go of all of the past and the present and the future.
What was I before I was born? I was not. I was not even free for I was not, though perhaps I was in the mind of God. Sitting here in the breeze as we move along in the van looking for elephants and lions, I am free in the breeze. Now we pull over to watch a giraffe only a few feet away. The giraffe is the most elegant of creatures; the giraffe walks with an ease, a grace, a fluidity in which there is no haste. It is a royal creature. We move along now in the breeze again, and the grasses are blond and a couple of feet high and I’m drawn to the grasses. They remind me of the high grasses in Wyoming just two weeks before. Imagine coming home and people saying, “What did you like?” I liked the grasses. I liked the breeze and the grasses. They were the best.
On another day in Johannesburg we go into a cathedral. It has a high ceiling and it’s crowded with people who are beautifully dressed. We have stumbled on a birthday celebration and mass for Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Years ago I was briefly in South Africa and it was a time full of fear and danger for all blacks. But now there is freedom. There is trouble, there is danger, but there is freedom. The atmosphere in the cathedral is electric. It’s a mixture of blacks and whites. You can feel their joy in what’s happened, and they focus their joy on Desmond Tutu. There are times when the African dancers get up and sing and dance and Desmond Tutu himself dances. Tutu speaks and he laughs and giggles and we all sing Happy Birthday.
In the pew to Linda’s left there are two very beautiful young black African women. At the end of the ceremony Linda exchanges a few words. The African women each hug her. We feel like dear friends although we don’t even know one another.
Africa. We are on a night train in Africa. We sit in our compartment and Africa seems endless. There are endless mountains and vineyards. It gets to be night and there is a full moon. We sleep and we tumble on into the night in Africa. We wake and say to ourselves, Africa, we’re in Africa.
We might just as well be in a movie for all is done so well. Linda and I are escorted to table number three in the dining car. Millie is the name of the man in charge of the dining car. He has a great broad front. He is blustery but courteous. He says he has been in this job twenty years. Africa. Africa. One night in Africa the moon is sufficiently low that suddenly there is blackness and stars above us, the African night sky. Two things I had wanted to do was to see the stars against the black sky in Africa, and to stand at the edge of the Cape of Good Hope and watch the swirly, wild seas and imagine those sailors the last many hundreds of years who have braved the seas. And imagine also the ships that have been torn apart and gone down and all those sailors who we will never know crying out and gone, they’re gone on the wild Cape of Good Hope. Africa, free, we are in Africa. We are in Africa.