THE SLEEPING LION

“What the *?!& did I do?”

I rolled over and rubbed my eyes. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and the room was pitch black. All I could hear was Julie screaming at the top of her lungs as though the loch ness monster was attacking her.

“What is going on?” I asked. My vision was coming back slowly and I could see her sitting up in bed, screaming with her eyes closed. I reached over and shook her out of her trance.

“Ugh. Huh?” She mumbled and flew herself back down on the bed, back into a deep sleep before her head even hit the pillow.

“It must be the anti-malaria medication we are taking,” is all I could think of as I tried to fall back asleep. The doctors had warned us that one of the side effects of the medication was the possibility of very vivid dreams.

IMG_2293I pulled the blankets tighter around myself. The night air had really cooled down our African hut. I wondered what time it was, but knowing the electric would be turned off until 6 am, and that the sun hadn’t risen, I figured it must be the middle of the night. I laid in my bed for about an hour, listening to the sounds of Africa and enjoying the quietness without my computer, my phone, or any distractions. As I saw a peep of sunlight come through the window, I decided to get up. I knew the staff would be heating the water in the wood burning tank soon and decided to get a jump on it…I needed a hot shower to warm me up!

I hurried to the shower and started the water. It was cold so I decided to give it a few minutes. As I was gathering my soaps and toothbrush, I saw steam pouring out of the bathroom. “Ahhh,” I thought, and I jumped in. The shower itself was huge, the size of a large walk-in closet. I was able to just go right in, wheelchair and all. There was a bench lining the inside of the showers that I transferred onto (so that my wheelchair wouldn’t be wet all day). I sat down and took a deep breath of warm, moist air. And when I looked up at the water, I had a big decision to make.

It was brown. Brown, murky water. I waited for a few minutes thinking it must just be a fluke, but it stayed brown. So, I grabbed my shampoo and cleaned myself in the warm, brown water. It was just a little dirt after all, right?

I found my hair dryer, and about half way through drying my hair, there was a large bang and the electric went out. I looked at Julie, only the sunlight filling the room, and she said, “Uh, what happened?”

A few minutes later there was a knock on our door. We opened it and Matt said, “What did you do? The entire camp is without electricity…”

He looked at the power converter connected to my hair dryer, which was now smoking, and informed me that we were trying to pull too much electricity. Fortunately, we were the last ones to be leaving our cabin, so the other women on our tour wouldn’t be complaining about our accidental over usage of electric.

IMG_2034We had a nice breakfast at the lodge and loaded up in our safari van for another five hours of driving through the flat safari lands. We were in the middle of nowhere when we saw our first elephant. There was nothing around. Not a building, another car, nothing. Not so much as even a telephone pole. There were only a few trees and some hills off in the distance. Francis, our driver, pointed out the elephant. He stopped our safari van and pointed off in the distance. And there was the beautiful elephant. The one thing I had wanted to see the most on this trip was an elephant with her baby. And here it was. Not just an elephant, but a mama and her baby.

They were roaming slowly, as elephants do, through the tall grass. It was calming and I thought to myself, this is the cycle of life. What we, as living things, all do. We come together and take care of each other and spend life together…surviving, laughing, crying…just living. It’s what I was doing on this trip. Living. My life. With loved ones. I’m human and they’re elephant. But somehow, we’re a little the same.

We snapped a few more photos of the elephant and her baby as Francis pulled away, promising us we would see herds of elephants in the next few days. He said we were about 30 minutes away from our resort. We were baffled. There was nothing around us. Where would be staying?

We drove along and suddenly Francis came to a sudden halt and said, “Shhh!” Ahead of us on the path was a sleeping lion. Just sprawled out basking in the sun. We stopped for a while and just watched the sleeping lion. His chest rose up and down as he took in slow, methodic breaths. I thought how nice it must be to just take a nap whenever the moment struck. To find a warm spot in the sun and make it a bed. The lion twitched and slowly, very slowly, stretched out all his limbs. He sat up and looked around, oblivious to his audience. He got up on all fours and strolled away from us. I wasn’t sure if he was so used to tourists, or if he simply had no interest in us. Either way, it was simply awesome to witness our lion friend living life. Just napping on a Tuesday afternoon.

IMG_2426A few minutes later, Francis took a sharp left down a very narrow dirt road and it appeared we were headed towards a woods. A random group of trees stood in front of us. We pulled through a small opening, and in the middle of this forest was the most beautiful resort I’ve ever seen. Completely self sufficient and simply gorgeous. In the middle of the Masai Mara. Surrounded by trees, which were surrounded by animals. Nothing between us and the lions, tigers, and bears except a few trees.

We found our rooms and they were equally as beautiful. The beds were covered in fluffy white linens with hanging mosquito nets surrounding them. That evening, as they again turned the electricity off for the night, we tucked ourselves in and wrapped our beds in netting. Safe and sound for another beautiful night in Africa.

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