“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.