Last night Annika and I went for a special walk around sunset. First we stopped at Zion and Trust's place and talked with them for awhile. They've gotten to the point where they rub their cheeks on the fence and I rub my cheek against theirs when we greet. Nothing between my face and the face of a full grown lion with a mane and enormous teeth except thin wire.
Then we walked to see the Brothers. They've just recently decided that these 3 guys are too big and powerful to walk with people any more. (They recently took down a filmmaker who was here and could have really hurt him just with their weight.) So they miss people a lot and came running when I called "Come! Come! Come!" They were so happy to see us. They kept making lion sounds--hard to describe the way they "talk" when they're happy, but it sounds sort of like a giant, deep-throated dog who is attempting to talk human. We spent awhile with them--they were sad to see us go. Here's a picture of one last spring when I was here.
Then we moved on to the back of the enclosure where Macho, Simba and their three cubs were. The cubs and Simba were all lying along the fence, so we plopped ourselves down and "talked" with them as well. Then Annika said they sometimes run with her along the fence, so I jumped up and gave it a try.
It was amazing. Two of the cubs jumped up and ran with me, just a few feet from me on the other side of the fence. I'd run fast and they'd keep up. Then I'd stop, and they'd stop. Then I'd switch directions and so did they. It was a fun game for them, and I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe (and I was running, after all).
Then when one of them looked away at a sound I jumped toward the fence and yelled "HA!" He jumped back and let out a baby lion roar. It was hilarious--I actually scared him.
Then we completed the circle and ended up with Zion and Trust again--and this time I ran with Trust. I was running the fastest I could and he was just loping along. It made me realize that outrunning a lion is a CRAZY thought. Your only chance in the wild would be outrunning at least one other person--then you'd avoid being dinner.
We got back to the lapa for dinner about 40 minutes late for dinner--where Cornelia and Willi were waiting for us. But it didn't matter. I felt ALIVE and QUIVERING with energy. Lions do that to me. They are astounding creatures.
Today I'm saying good-bye to all my babies until the next trip. I leave tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.--drive to Windhoek airport, fly to Jo-Burg, then 16 hours to NYC, and finally to Raleigh, NC, arriving Christmas Eve in the afternoon. It's been a great three weeks. I was hoping Harnas would work its magic on me by making me feel strong, resilient, and optimistic about life, and sure enough it has. Just yesterday I was suddenly filled with this immense feeling of happiness and thought, "I can handle whatever life throws at me. I am Woman Who Runs With Lions. Hear me Roar!"
See you on the other side of the world. --Barbara