We went to a private reserve today that was a mini-safari of sorts. About 2 hours drive outside of Dakar, and about 4K acres with giraffes, zebras, warthogs, a bunch of different beautiful hooved, antelope-ish animals I didn’t catch the name of, water buffalo, 2 white rhinoceroses, and, yes, ostriches.
The animals are just ridiculously gorgeous. The warthogs getting down on their front knees to eat; the slow lope of the giraffes, a fixed stare from a coba (the Woloff name for one of the beautiful antílope-y animals). They have a male and female white rhinoceros, but they have lived together for 21 years and no babies. It seems the female doesn’t like the male even though he is the only guy around.
The ostriches! What? That is the weirdest damn animal! I was trying to figure out if God took to creating the ostrich after 1 too many margaritas (mos def my God knows her tequila) or concocted this wild thing just to screw with us. “You think you’re creative? Look at my ostrich!”, God says, maybe with a fist bump. I mean who could come up with that. The next time I catch myself being way too serious, I am going to think of these ostriches, and I know I will smile. They are just that funny.
It is actually the baobab trees that stole the show for me, though. The guide told us they can live to 2,000 years, and when I googled it just now to check the spelling, I learned they have actually been dated to as old as 6,000 years. Holy crap. They are beautiful and huge. Their massive trunks are just kind of mind-blowing; diameter of the big ones I saw today were 12-15 feet, and my google article says they can be 9m in diameter - that is almost 27 feet! We had beautiful blue skies - and the green leaves, grey trunks, and blue skies were just mesmerizingly beautiful. All trees are alive, of course, but these seemed almost closer to being animals than plants. A giraffe under a baobab tree - I hope that image doesn’t fade for me.
It is a privately owned park; the government is not involved. I hope the ridiculously high entrance fee goes to support the animals and more conservation instead of lining the pockets of the 2 Yemeni, 1 Belgian, and 1 Senegalese who own it. One can hope.
It was worth it in every way. And though I am in the same choir with all readers of this blog, it must be said: we are assholes for desecrating the planet. We have lost too many wild places. We have replaced that with cities, many of which are hideous. The choices we make as humans are truly nuts.
Heavenly creator, wake our spirits to fight for animals and habitat with the fierceness we fight a water bottle deposit or limiting car emissions. For goodness sake. In the most literal sense of that phrase.
Tomorrow, my last day of this wonderful adventure, I will go meet Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone and a friend of a friend. When my friend Brad introduced us via email, Ishmael wrote back and said “I will be in Dakar in August.” Fancy that. So will I.
Love and light. Can’t wait to see all of you and hug you a lot.