Adventures in Gratitude: Southern Africa
Travel for me is like pressing the reset button. Going off the grid, putting the iPhone down, seeing new and incredible things, meeting people who have far less than you, yet are happier and more grateful is an essential part of my existence. Going to the heart of Africa is one way to ensure you won’t be tempted to spend your entire trip on Wi-Fi, because there isn’t any! Though this is my third trip to Africa, second on safari, it changes me each time, teaches me lessons that could never be learned inside my day-to-day bubble.
Warning: Trips like this are hard! You’re filthy all the time, and cannot get clean, as a mountain girl this bothered me far less than it might bother those of you who are not used to having dirt in places it doesn’t belong. I’m fairly sure the amount of deet you have to use to fend off bugs is at least somewhat toxic. The drugs you take to prevent malaria are about as pleasant as my sheer terror and panic to discover that the roof did not connect to the walls in our little “be one with nature” huts in Hwange, Zimbabwe. This resulted in regular visits from the biggest arachnids we have ever seen (I mean it this time dad). Good news is that I take my “spider slayer” with me everywhere, and she has a long history of saving my life from spiders all over the world, my incredible and adventurous mother. Have I turned you off yet?
Let me turn this ship around, imagine children ages 3 and up walking 6-7 miles to go to school each day just because they are desperate to learn. Imagine 7-8 people, families living in tiny shacks made of corrugated tin and cardboard in a shantytown in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, that are numbered, illustrating just how far they are down the list for better housing. With apartheid still in their rear view mirror, their focus is working hard each day to meet basic needs like clean water and food, and they shared with us that their ultimate goal is to educate their children. Imagine our guide for our safari being away from his wife and soon to be 5 children for months on end so he can provide for them, but being endlessly grateful that he is able to go to town (Kasane, Botswana) a couple of times a week to hear their voices on the phone.
On top of all of that, there is an indescribable feeling associated with being mere feet away from the truly wild animal kingdom that can only be expressed by singing “The Circle of Life” at full volume. Watching lions dominate the food chain, elephants care for their young, and zebras trot gracefully across the savannah is incomparable. I leave filled with gratitude that there is digital photography, and I don’t have to spend an entire paycheck developing the 2500 pictures I took in an attempt to capture some of these moments, so we can relive them over and over when regular life seems overwhelming.
What I’m trying to say is, go somewhere that challenges you (we highly recommend Botswana-this is not a sponsored ad) and soak in the silence, the gratitude of those around you, let their spirit and hope and positivity change you. Bring it back home with you and apply it to your daily life, don’t just be thankful at Thanksgiving, think of these inspiring people, and be grateful each day.
-Generations of Adventure
*This post was originally written as a guest post on our dear friend, and Fairy Blogmother’s wonderful blog, Insider Families. Please visit them!