I’ve noticed in recent years that some of my friends post pictures in albums entitled ‘Stranger in My Home Town’. I love this. It’s easy to become complacent about where we live, and to miss the less visible wonders that are always all around us.
Living in Selous, I try to practice a mindfulness that discourages me from taking for granted the priviledged opportunity I have being here. Watching the trees and plants blossom and wither, as green turns to gold with the changing seasons; following raiding parties of ants with intrigue; hearing the thunder of a hundred red-billed quelia as they fly through camp ravaging the grasses of their seeds; laying tucked in bed as hyena ‘whoooo-yup’ me to sleep and hippos laugh in my dreams. This is a beautiful and charmed life that I live alongside my Beho Beho family.
However, there can be days – though thankfully infrequent – when this mindfulness is defeated. I leave the office only to walk the paths with checklists and measuring tapes. When I lift my head not to breathe in the sweetness of the jasmine, but to confirm that I won’t be walking into an elephant during my routine visits.
But afternoons like today enable me to rediscover a childlike wonder heightening my senses. Revisiting a favourite haunt – the roller coaster, as some of you will know – plains game was abundant. A bachelor group of giraffe craned their necks to investigate our status as friend or foe; large numbers of wildebeest joined by a more relaxed herd of eland not much further down the plains. The pungent smell of the swampy marshes still inhabited by hippo and surely a croc or two; butterflies bursting from within the bushes, before lining every last leaf like thousands of flower petals as they rest for the night. The way the land comes to life one last time – soaked in a glorious amber sunlight – in that golden hour just before darkness sweeps across it. This place has a certain magic. And in these moments, I might just live a hundred lifetimes.
This is a wonderous place that I call my home. Whether your visits were long ago or are still upcoming I hope that you can look back on your time at Beho Beho with the same fondness as warms my heart this evening.