Safari is South Africa is already a lovely experience, but the sense of interacting with Nature one feels on an afternoon, just after a rainstorm with the air filled with petrichor, is superlative.
I felt like a single image couldn’t capture the feeling; the damp darkness of a rainy day is better conveyed in this acacia.
It’s the first day of class for St. Lawrence today, so I’m getting ready and looking towards the future and so forth, but it’s also a great time to look back on the past. It’s been more than a year since I visited South Africa, and when it’s -15ºF on the walk to work, thinking about the Zulu Nyala game reserve can bring back some pleasant memories. It’s the details that stick with me: the fences made from whole sticks of wood, rather than boards, and that particular red color of the soil.
I had an up-close-and-personal, early-morning meeting with this particular cheetah in Zulu Nyala. (She wears a radio tracking collar so that vets can care for her and her offspring.) Staring into the face of evolution’s high-velocity interceptor on a rainy morning is a more effective wake-up than 100 cups of coffee.
For all of the anecdotal (and statistical) dangers on the road in South Africa, people spend a lot of time there. (Really, you could say the same of the chief transportation modes in any part of the world.) Whether it’s walking, hitchhiking (lots of hitchhiking), or hanging out in the back of an invincible Toyota, people get to where they have to be.
As you might expect for a charming town on the Indian Ocean, St. Lucia is heavily carpeted with folks ready to sell anything and everything (to tourists, of course.) The waves were crashing just beyond this dune—I could already smell and hear them—but on this little rise, under the shade of the coniferous trees, beach towels and toys were for sale. The brightly colored array, flapping in the breeze in a strangely orderly way, brought to my mind nothing more than some strange local variation on a Shinto shrine.
This zebra mare isn’t part of a stallion’s harem yet (she’s young), so she hangs out, grazing and scratching herself on cars, by the tents of Zulu Nyala. Though by no means domesticated, she was remarkably docile (and uninterested in the behavior of the humans going about their daily lives around her.)
African savannah isn’t the homogenous, steady monotony that it appears on the Discovery Channel. (Well, back when the discovery channel showed nature documentaries, anyway.) Dirt roads and hills criss-cross it, and fever trees like this one grow where more water is available. The yellow-green bark comes from photosynthetically active cells. The name comes from an interesting illustration of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: when early European settlers went near water, they tended to contract malaria (thus the fever). They incorrectly attributed this to the trees, rather than the mosquitos breeding in the water.