As a little girl, I dreamt of the days I would be an adventurer.
I dreamt of them with fervor and conviction.
So much so that I wasn’t really dreaming of the days. I was believing in them.
I believed in them with same kind of ferocity with which I believed in Santa Claus.
The kind so deeply ingrained that it led me to a fight on the fourth grade school bus.
(Is 9 too old to be that committed to Santa?)
I believed in the days as though there wasn’t a chance in hell I was just dreaming.
There was a silent but dignified certainty in my heart. Adventure would be my reality.
And I believed that every day until my reality, it was.
Until I was 21 and rolling like a storm through countless European countries.
And when that ended I believed again until I was 23 and a resident of Italy; Living life as a fever dance amongst the artists and the lovers.
And when those days came to a close I believed some more until I was 24 and hopping trains in Thailand and sailing the waters of Vietnam’s Northern coast.
And promptly upon my return from Asia, I believed like crazy until I was on a 19 hour flight to Africa.
The kind of adventure that awaited me in Africa was the kind that I had never let myself consider too much. Perhaps this particular type was just a little too out of reach, even for the almighty believer.
As far as I was concerned, it was the sort that only existed on the Discovery Channel and in Paulo Coelho novels and in my wildest imagination.
A little girl from a little farm town had no business on these adventures.
Or so I thought, until I went on safari in Northern Tanzania…
And then I danced with the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe in their village on the outer ring of Ngorongoro crater. They taught me their welcome song and I shimmied my shoulders to the beat.
I watched in awe from ten feet away as a wild lioness turned her head methodically. The muscles in her back rippled and quivered one by one, as if someone was picking guitar strings along her spine.
For the first time I had the absolute privilege of seeing an elephant, the animal that lights my soul on fire by simply existing in the world, at peace. In the wild. Existing as it is meant to exist, without human interference.
I witnessed 50 hippos stuffed comically into one small pond; all of them taking turns rolling on their backs in the water, bellies up like fat, purple rotisserie chickens.
I saw a kingfischer catch a crab in his beak, crack it on a rock and swallow it whole. The circle of life in real time.
And for a weekend I was the adventurer little me always dreamed of and then some.
And now that it’s over I’m back to believing.
My next one is soon to come.