By Cindy Tyrrell
These words are offered for whoever’s eyes or ears they may land upon in need of encouragement that that which claims your heart matters – follow your dream.
The light was fading as we limped towards Mana Pools with a shot, front left wheel bearing. The Toyota – fully laden with 7 people, as well as an inordinate amount of gear and supplies, was obviously not going to make it to our intended destination that night, where we were going to set up camp for the season. Thus, we pulled in at the main Mana gate that night asking if we could doss down before attempting to slowly crawl to the main camp the following day.
Sharing our supper with the warm and welcoming Prisca, the ranger on duty at Nyakasikana Gate, the glorious, red orb of an almost full moon rising above us, was a night to remember. Despite my spending it on the hard, concrete floor of the Nyakasikana Gate office, listening to the distant yelps of hyenas and the sound of a scops owl, with a wide smile on my face, I was back in the place that had lit up my soul once again, after the many years of it lying dormant.
As I lay awake on a few of my clothes as a rudimentary ‘mattress’, I thought back to a favourite quote of mine by Mary Oliver: “…what do you plan to do with the rest of your one, wild and precious life?”
I recall thinking of this same quote as I had flown out from Mana in September 2018, after spending a beyond remarkable 10 days camping with Khangela Safaris, led by Mike Scott and skilled tracker Bernard, both of whom, with their extensive knowledge and skills in and off the bush, had enabled me to re-connect to a part of myself, which I had lost in the passage of time, swallowed up by suburban life, as well as work commitments in Cape Town, where I live.
The sheer delight of that rediscovery of self was intoxicating and on the flight out I had already began wondering how I could return to this extraordinary place to work for a time and thus really explore the soul journey that I had just begun.
Through a connection of Mike’s, I was offered a job at a relatively new camp at Mana, where my soul journey could continue.
After waking from a fitful sleep, due to the plethora of mozzies and the exceedingly unforgiving concrete floor, I rose to join our crew of 4 as they climbed aboard the stricken Toyota and after grateful thanks to Prisca for her hospitality, we slowly drove on to offload our gear at the remarkably beautiful site on the bank of the Zambezi river, which we were to transform into Camp Mana , prior to taking the Toyota to Nyamepi, the main Zimparks camp to see if the mechanic there could repair our shot wheel bearing.
That first day was spent erecting our small tents the staff were to live in, one of which was to become my home for the next 8 months. I was delighted to have what I regarded as a magnificent spot to reside for the duration of my stay, as it was on the eastern boundary of the camp. It had a stunning, uninterrupted view of every day’s awesome sunrise, as it emerged through the magnificent trees that Mana is so famous for.
I was ecstatic to note that there was a distinct game track to the east of my tent, where I was later to experience a number of extraordinary close up and personnel encounters with some of the various resident species, as they wandered, or on several occasions – charged past the side of my little tent.
I still well recall one evening whilst in my tiny shower tent, hearing the thundering of hooves, the ground reverberating as a herd of several hundred buffalo thundered past for the several minutes that it took for them all to reach the river, a myriad eyes illuminated by my small headlight, as I tentatively peeped out from behind the shower flap
In a magnificent, wild place such as Mana Pools, one is ushered into the wonders and mysteries of nature and in so doing, an insidious process takes place. A re-setting of one’s awareness as to what is ‘real’ and what is not.
One’s entire psyche is enabled to readjust, allowing one to reconnect with the deepest and fundamental recognition of self; who we are in a world away from commodities, the fast pace of consumer orientated life, which prevents us from really seeing, feeling and listening to the intimate connection we all need to have with the naturel world, to be able to achieve this recognition of self.
This process can occur in many subtle ways and some not so subtle.
My first real confrontation with a ‘self’ that needed to be more aware of just how easily one can mess up in an area in which one needs to have one’s wits about one at all times, happened after having only been there for approximately 2 weeks, when I drove the short distance westwards to thank the hostess at another camp for giving me a pair of her shoes and other items to replace mine, that had been stolen at O R Tambo airport.
To be continued.
© NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe http://www.nzira.co.zw