"The herd of elephants kick up the dust in the narrow track, while the matriarch eyes me intently. The aunts have surrounded the new-born calf behind her for protection. I wait and watch them as they smell the air for danger, then satisfied that there is no threat, they slowly begin to clear the path, and I can be on my way. My supplies are low, and I need to get to the nearest frontier town to stock up and return before nightfall. Nairobi is the small dusty town with one main equally powdery road filled with characters out of a book passing through before vanishing into the wild on their journeys. One old colonial looking hotel with a full red patio against the white of the walls stands frozen in time. The khaki-clad clientele sips cold beers and ice-teas under the lazy bamboo fans, stirring the heat slightly but helping with the flies drawn to the sweet-smelling human sweat. When I casually pass by, there is a faint tinkling of a piano emanating from the wide doors of the lounge inside. As I close my eyes, it sounds like my father’s hands trifling over the keys. But, no time to waste, I need to get the supplies and return to camp before the sun sets."
So was the essence of the rambling day-dreams I had as a young girl. That is the thing about day-dreams; they are yours to craft any which way you want without logic or purpose. Born in the city but with a heart in the bush, all I wanted was to be ‘out-there’, travelling, to experience, to adventure with my greatest passion of all—wildlife.
Many years later, while stuck in the chaos of peak hour traffic in the smog-filled city of Nairobi on my way to the Masai Mara, I chuckled silently to myself. The little one-horse town of my reveries was a real sh*t-hole of a city.
In the solitude of a solo trip, there is nowhere to hide or deflect what you may be feeling at any given moment. The exhilaration of getting the shot you’d been waiting for, or the disappointment of losing the scene you wanted to capture. Then there is fear—a fear that grips you while your heart is beating loudly in your ears. These are the times when you realise the pure substance of your nature by handling it calmly or falling apart in panic. I have done both.
More than anything else, the journeys I have taken has taught me about myself. My limits, my fears, my spirituality and, to what degree I am resourceful. What I have learnt or not understood and on many occasions, I have surprised myself on various levels—but, when all else fails, have a cocktail.
On a long gravel road traversing the Namib Naukluft National Park to get to Swakopmund in Namibia, I seemed to be the only moving life. Not another vehicle, not a soul I could wave to on my trip. The desert was white and bright, with rock outcrops now and then, but silence. Driving gives you time to think and muse, on that long C14 desert road, with the dust in the wake of my Land Rover, I thought of the name, One-for-the-Road.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain