I've been writing about my safari adventures in my other blog [Calenderpages] and won't repeat here. I try to use this for more thoughtful or serious or at least different subject matter. I've been thinking about an anecdote that affected me unexpectedly. But before I launch into it -- the lion in the picture above is REAL, I swear, I petted his powerful back. Yes, he was tame, on a reserve that has a "walk with lions" for a price and the proceeds go, they say and I hope, to their main work which is rescuing orphaned animals, lions and others and when they're old enough introducing them to the wild - or at least the wilderness of a sizable reserve. It was a privilege to touch a real lion and have a double portrait.
The anecdote: The youngest oouple on this trip were the bane of our days, gauche, ill mannered, ill informed, and nearly juvenile in comments and actions, lousy table manner, asking stupid questions. This is unusual on these trips where most people are well traveled and well mannered and well informed. I tried to avoid sitting near them at meals so as not to have to engage in any kind of half baked conversation. I think some others were a bit more tolerant than I
At the end of the stay at each of the four wilderness camps the staff did an "Africa night" when we ate around a camp fire and they did singing or dancing or drumming or skits. I didn't really like these nights because it was like summer camp for teens. The man of the couple was often quick to join dances when we were invited; such juvenilia seemed perfect for this couple. At the last camp the staff did some incredible drumming and dancing, for the first time it seemed genuinely enthusiastic and "real". Quite a few of our group joined the dancing because the drumming was so very good and so was the dancing by the staff.
As they were winding down, one of the driver/guides read a patriotic poem he had written [a good one, not dogerel] and then they asked if any of us could/would share a song or poem with them. In a second I ran through my mind for a poem I could recite and came up blank and felt a ashamed. After a long moment the woman of the couple got up and stepped near the fire and said to the staff members, "I have a song. It is not in English. It is from our Native Americans." She sang "Hanta Yo" in Sioux [I presume], a plain but sincere voice, rather sweet and kind. I was very moved. It seemed so perfect to share.
The moral of the story has to do with cultural sharing and with the overly sophisticated habits of the rest of us who did not have the generosity to share something of our culture -- maybe others had nothing as I didn't. [I had briefly thought, we should all sing "America" but my own voice is so inadequate I knew I couldn't start it. I wished someone else would.] Certainly we were in no way superior to the people, Zimbabweians in this case, who had shared with us, in fact we were very much inferior in our lack of both pride, cultural identity and generosity. I felt very humbled by that young woman's openness and choice.
The man below is the driver/guide/poet, Lewis -- in couple of days I felt great respect for his competence and was surprised and admiring when he turned out to be a out to be a poet as well. Poets live among us and we often do not know.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!