Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Long Hello From Africa

Tonight as we were driving through the game reserve ("game reserve" being a euphemism for "the bush" which is what it's really called around here, but I can't write "driving through the bush" without overwhelming my inner fifteen-year-old), bugs came flying out the ground. The bugs were flying termites (yes, I said flying termites) and they were fleeing their underground homes because it was too hot and humid under there. Or at least, that's what our guide explained to us. Why they were flying out of the ground towards the owls that eat them is beyond me, but I'm not really one to talk, as I've spent the better part of this week driving TOWARDS things like lions and rhinos myself.

Anyway, the termites. They came flying out of the ground in swarms. Hundreds, thousands, millions of bugs, all flying around. We were sitting atop an open-air Jeep, driving towards them. At least, it certainly felt like they were driving towards them, because they were definitely flying towards us. In an open-air Jeep, there's obviously no windshield. Unless you count the three of us: me, my dad, and my brother, sitting shoulder to shoulder, acting as a human windshield. Those of you who have driven through the south in the middle of a summer night know how disgusting a prospect this is. That smack, smack, smack of bugs hitting your windshield? That sound was made by my body as I frantically tried to swat them away.

It sounds gross, and I guess it was, but, mouth closed to avoid swallowing any of the termites, I was laughing.

"They're going to nest in my hair!" I declared, through clenched teeth. My dad and brother laughed. My hair, for all of my attempts to calm it down, has been out of control here. Truly wild and chaotic. I look like a crazed woman.

"THIS is one of the ten plagues!" I said. "This is what the bible meant by locusts. It wasn't locusts. It was flying termites!"

More laughter from my peanut gallery.

"This is God smiting us," I continued, as I bent myself in half, and swatted away the termites from my head, neck, and shoulders.

"It's slowing down," Andy said, and he was right. I looked up into an impossibly dark sky full of stars that I'd never seen before and smiled, open-mouthed. But while my head was still taking in the enormity of the night sky, my dad pointed towards the beams of light that our jeep threw onto the road.

"Frogs!" he said. And we all laughed, another plague upon us.

Of course, it wasn't a plague. But I'll be honest here for a moment and tell you that God is somewhere around here. I don't talk much about God, particularly because my own opinions on the subject are pretty unconventional. But I believe in something, and whatever that something is, it's here and I can feel it. Which I didn't expect at all, but it's actually pretty great. I think it has something to do with seeing nature in action, all up close and personal like. Whatever the reason, some kind of holy work is playing itself out on large and small scales here in the bush. There. I said it!

If I'd had the chance to write a post while we were still in Cape Town, I would have dwelled on entirely different things. I certainly wouldn't have talked about God. I would have written about the beautiful city and the lovely people. I would have written a lot about how cool it was to be at the Cape of Good Hope, standing high above two oceans and countless shipwrecks. I would have told you about the penguins we saw (yes, penguins) and about the fact that while other tourists stood around remarking that this was the closest they'd get to the South Pole, I closed my eyes and sent a silent message to Matt, thinking "not me. This isn't the closest I'll get to the South Pole."

But now that I'm here in the middle of nowhere, I'm thinking about other, loftier things. Or something. I'm thinking about different things, that's for sure.

A few days ago I remarked to my dad that whenever I visit a new place, I'm torn between thoughts that I could move there and thoughts that there are so many other places in the world I want to see. But here in this part of the world, I know that I can't live here and I don't want to. I also know that for the next few days, this is the part of the world that I want to be seeing. It's the part with a measurable amount of divinity, and it's pretty spectacular.

I'm sure you're all looking forward to the many pictures (all 634 of them! You know you can't wait to see them.) but because I don't have a way to get them to you, I'll leave you with a sleep-deprived Haiku written by my brother:

Water buffalo
Mauled by six lionesses;
it rots silently.

People, this is what happens when you wake up at 5am every day to get in an open-air Jeep and chase after lions. Haikus. About dead water buffalo. Of course, those of you who know Andy know that he could make up something like that when he's nowhere near Africa, but it's definitely more amusing in these parts.

Pictures to follow in a few days! Happy trails.


Matt said...

Wow! Sweets, it sounds amazing. I wish I could be there with you.

And don't worry, it's definitely not the closest you'll get to the South Pole :)

Steffers said...

So, you know that all I've talked about with Dan this past week is penguins in Africa, right? OF COURSE Dan knew penguins lived in Africa. Will bring me back a penguin, please?

Bert said...

If I say 'please' can I get one too? :-)
Lizzi, you made me wanna go to S.Africa! You know, I'd sooo love the weather! Its freeeezzzzing here today... I'm so J! Not of the bugs tho. Shudder.
P.s. I had a dream that Bert got so fat that he could only do somersaults in his tank, and his eyes fell out. Gee. See what finals week does to you!