My last full day at Harnas was a nice one. It's traditionally "wish" day--when the volunteers who are leaving are allowed to pick their activities--whether it's one they want to repeat or one they haven't had yet. I decided to do the same for me.
In the morning I headed out with Erin to check on the animals in the Lifeline. That's when we discovered Bobby and took him back to the farm. Then we went out again and saw Pride and her cubs, Max & Moritz (the two cheetah brothers), and a pack of 4 wild dogs. All were healthy and it appeared hunting was going well since everybody's bellies were full.
|Me and Pride|
Then I made the rounds of the animals near the house and lapa--Elsa, Atheno, the 3 cheetahs, the caracals, the vervet monkeys (who got my last peanuts), and of course the 3 baby baboons.
It's been a memorable trip. I've seen some old friends and made some new ones--both animal and human. I've watched volunteers that I thought were hopeless blossom into solid workers. I've done some work myself but found plenty of time for just sitting and thinking--often in the company of cheetahs, whose purring usually helps me think clearly about life.
|holding Leuki's head while he purrs|
Most of all--as usual--I'll go back to North Carolina refreshed and rejuvenated. It's hard to go back to winter, to work, to problems I told myself I'd deal with later, but it would be harder still if I didn't take with me the African spirit.
I write in my book about the night I spent sleeping (sort of) with Pride and Cleopatra in June of 2008 and how it fundamentally changed the way I see my life. I knew after that night that no matter what happens to me, I'll always have that experience to draw upon and help me find peace. So after that trip, I got a small tattoo of a cheetah pawprint on the inside of my right wrist. Whenever I have a hard day, I find myself rubbing that pawprint, subconsciously remembering, I believe, that no one can ever take that away from me. It's more than any one person deserves, and I was honored to have it.
Cheers--and I'll see you on the other side of the world.