Is the pope catholic?
Do I love coffee?
Are leopards Tristan’s favorites?
Need I say more?
If people know me well enough, yes is always my answer to seeing rhinos, especially young ones. They bring me back to a happy place and fill my heart with love and a ton of belief in the possibilities of life. So when the opportunity arose, I went. A three hour roundtrip for an hour of fierce joy.
I tagged along on someone else’s journey for a brief chance of being close to baby rhinos. IIt’s been a very long time since I had the opportunity of touching one as all the one I’ve seen in the last few year have been wild ones, and very closely guarded by their mothers. Rhinos and mothers in general don’t take too well to strangers creeping up to their babies, so can’t really blame them. Not knowing them, or what to expect I was quiet during the whole trip. When emotion overwhelms, I become a mute, I zone out, I expect nothing.
Being close to them was… just as every bit special as I remember. The ear tickles, the collapsing into deep sleep, the whining, the smell, the manipulation, their curiosity, their tenderness. It’s all a treasure.
Although it was so full of happy thoughts, it also left a bittersweet taste. These rhinos we spent our time with, are orphans. Some of them due to poaching, some of them due to natural causes. Despite all the happiness this afternoon brought, there was always a bit of grief and sadness as a back-thought. Grief for our lack of humanity in nonsensically killing these wonderful creatures, sadness because of their loss at such young age, grief for my jeans that ripped exposing my bright colored red underwear.
The good with the bad, never letting the bad take away from the good.
Of homemade remedies many have spoken. There are those that consider nothing can beat the power of advil and there are those who believe in homeopathy; for them to work, we just have to apply it to the right personality. A small piece of chocolate for the soul, honey and ginger tea for the throat, a cold beer for a hangover and a dark room for a migraine.
But for the heart? What do you take for an aching heart?
The recipes are endless. The answers can vary from voodoo, to imaginary funerals, to traveling the world, to a new car. In my time here I have found an additional one that seems to work for when the Universe comes crashing down and no words can help: searching for elephants.
Her and I went searching for elephants. She needed the elephants because my words had run empty, my shoulders were soaked and she was dry out of tears. We needed to leave everything behind and travel 1900km in search of elephants, to fight the curve balls the Universe sent her. Together, Johnny Cash and I had this covered.
With chocolate, two cameras, and a best friend we searched for elephants for 5 days to help repair the cracks and start over. Why elephants you may ask? Because only giants are able to show you how important the little things are, how important it is to belong, how important it is to be kind, how important it is to move on.
Four years ago she found her strength in the elephants we surrounded ourselves with. Today she keeps them all around her life.
Sometimes words are not enough, and sometimes you need someone to show you.
If you lose the need to wander you belong. I don’t know how to better explain it. It is incredible what you can receive from animales if you don’t treat them like simple beasts. My special case was Bobby, the 4 month-old baby rhino that will forever hold a great part of my heart. This is what I want to do with my life. This were a few months were I took the world’s happiness, tasted it and belonged to me. I hope that if you haven’t found it, that one day you find what you search for. Wherever the road may lead you, don’t be afraid to follow. I found it in Africa, without help form any human beings. For that, I will be forever grateful.
I wrote this 7 years ago when a baby rhino forever changed my life. The bond we had and the way he fixed things that I thought were forever broken, I could never repay other than with all the love I could give him. Seven years later I still thank the Universe for putting him in my path.
“No eches raices en un sitio, muévete
pues no eres un árbol para eso tienes los pies
el hombre más sabio es el que sabe que su hogar
es tan grande cómo pueda imaginar”
I feel sometimes our past comes in ocean waves. You will be looking forward to the shore, to the goal and then gently, without you noticing something pulls you back to your depths. The waves turn the world upside down before spitting you back to the shore. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of saltwater (even narrative one) to put things into perspective and listen to what the Universe is telling you. The past can drag you back, make you go in circles and then throw you back on the beach for a different life, a different goal. Like the waves, we are ever changing.
“Don’t set your roots in one place, move
you’re not a tree, this is why you have feet”
It all began as a quest to search for a place where I could feel that I belonged. My hopeless wandering lead me to more airports, airplanes and lives out of a bag than I could have imagined. The instability of the search became my stability. I didn’t know how to stay in a place for more than a year. Too much to see, to much to do to settle.
“The wisest man is he who knows his home
is as big as he can imagine it to be”
It only took a while to realize that my peace came from a feeling of a certain place. The remoteness of it gives my peace, quiets my soul, makes me repeat this mantra “I’m in love with my life”. For the last 2 years this mantra hasn’t come to me as easily as it used to, it had abandoned me and I, it. It caught me by surprise recently, the thought popping before I had realized. When I went to basics, the feeling came back.
It’s ok to deviate but when the Universe insts “listen Linda, listen”.
The universe has spoken. A 3x3m for earthly possession is the only thing I need for now. I took a detour. Explored life on the other side and met people to last my through. It was lovely but my feet and Fizz still need to wander. Wander I shall, with the magic of new beginnings and the ocean waves at my back.
“The Kalahari will reveal itself to only those who seek with a true heart”. As soon as I read this on the cover of our newly bought map, I knew we were doomed. Something inside of me told me this was not going to be the experience I had hoped for; turns out it really wasn’t. This National Park is renowned for predator sightings and full of predator action if you believe social media. I had pretty much… none of it, making it one of the most frustrating wildlife experience I’ve had in a while. I had such high expectations that I probably set myself for failure from the very beginning. It’s funny how sometimes the Universe slaps you in the face with a warning that what you’re doing, and whom you’re with is not your path.
When I returned for the second time I warned everyone:
“We’re going to the desert, during summer”
“The HOTTEST summer recorded in the last 100 years”
“We will see nothing, I´m warning you”
Luckily my travel group was a lot more optimistic than I was, and armed with cameras and gin & tonics, we set off into the hot, hot, very hot Kalahari desert.
The first afternoon back I started spotting what would be my trend for the following two weeks: owls. Little known fact that this park holds a large population of different species of owls. I was thrilled – I love owls!.
We arrived to Mata Mara rest camp and a very nice, but slightly condescending man started talking to us about our time in the park.
“We looking for a pair of scops-owls that are always around here. We see them every year”
There they are”.
I have never spotted anything quicker in my entire life.
“Oh no my angel, that’s a canary not an owl”
If there is something that sets my blood on fire is being called names in a patronizing way and being dismissed because I’m girl. But honestly.. A CANARY?! Scops-owls are white and big canaries are small and yellow
I know my birding is not the best but A CANARY?! I have never felt more insulted by a stranger.
“No, I will show you”
I jumped out of the car (apparently in full “I will show a canary mood”) and pointed to where the owls were.
“THAT is an owl”
My friends were in the car crying their eyes out, they love when people underestimate me and find it hilarious when other get shown by a small Venezuelan girl in Africa that loves owls. The man, embarrassed said thank you, took a photo and then quickly left.
To this day, every owl I spot is a canary. To this day my friends cry with laughter at this event.
During this trip I learned that my self perception is very different to the way people see me as. I’d like to call this the jack russel (terrier) syndrome. It all started with a photo of me driving that only magnified with the canary incident.
“I look like a stick”
“You always do”
“I look small, like my car is too big for me”
“But I feel so big”
“But you’re not, you’re a little chicken wing”
“Oh look, a canary my angel”
(Insert not impressed face here)
I have always believed myself to be a very tall and big person only to realize that perhaps I was actually, surrounded by small(er) people and that to the rest of the world I’m no bigger and louder than a jack russel. I feel big and tough but apparently the world doesn’t see me that way, they don’t judge me that way. This came as a shock to me as I have never considered myself “petite” – I understand all too well now what small dogs go through, especially Plaga, she always regarded herself as a great dane, perhaps that’s why her and I were always meant to be.
For the rest of the trip, I carried on spotting owls. Big, small, hunting, sleeping. This trip turned out to be one of the best roadtrips of my life, who knew it would all start thanks to an owl.