It all started at Lion Country in California when I was six years old. I remember driving through the park, amazed by both the openness of the landscape and the variety of large creatures that lived there.
The lions came very close to the car and they were more formidable than I imagined. Then there were the giraffes, so graceful with their slow steps that seemed to take them so far so easily. I got to hold a baby cougar.
I know there must have been many other animals too, but the one I remember the most, the one that made a lasting impression that would persist throughout my whole life, was the elephant.
It wasn’t during the drive, but afterwards. I don’t remember how it all came about, but I will never forget riding the baby elephant. He was just young and so was I. I felt a kinship with him. I liked the feel of his thick skin, so wrinkled for just a youngster. And he had these wiry hairs like long whiskers on his back. Even today, riding the baby elephant is among the best experiences of my life.
I loved the elephant, and ever since I’ve wanted to see a wild one. A wild baby elephant. In Africa. That’s the dream.
40 years have passed since then! I’ve travelled to many places, but none that had wild elephants. Now that is about to change.
I made the decision after a health scare last year. Waiting to find out whether I had cancer was excruciating. While I was going through it, thinking perhaps the end was near, I wondered why I never made the time to go to Africa.
I’ve had 40 years, why didn’t I go? I was mad at myself. How could I have allowed a lifelong dream to slip by?
Even though I changed my life 3 years ago to become a full-time travelling photographer, I still haven’t made it to Africa. So I decided right then, in the midst of my anger at myself, that if I lived, I would go. Period. No worrying about the cost, no excuses, I’m going.
And so I am. Today.
I hope I’ll see a baby elephant.
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Note: This post was written the day I left on my African safari. I have since returned and have many photos and stories to share coming up on the blog.