Wiki: Mal d’Africa refers to the feeling of nostalgia of those who have visited Africa and want to go back (as saudade is the nostalgia of Brazil).
So, I’m back. Well, at least physically. Emotionally a large part of me is still in Botswana, for after nine glorious days immersed in nature, off the grid & unplugged, I must admit that a severe case of Mal d’Afrique has once again settled in. I knew it would happen, as it does every time I depart this magnificent continent, so mentally I was prepared, but alas, it still has struck, and I would not want it any other way.
Mal d’Afrique is one of those things that is challenging to put into words as it must be felt in order to be understood. Once felt, it is a feeling that you never forget, a deep yearning to return back to Africa, often referred to as a deep longing to return back to the source of life. Regardless of where you were born, Africa calls you ‘home’. It is an honor & a privilege to experience it, yet it leaves me watching National Geographic and The Discovery Channel, even The Lion King, for weeks on end. And if has me already plannign my next trip.
What strikes me the most as I reflect on the past 9 days is the freedom I felt throughout my time on safari in Botswana. Sure, I was busy — between hosting the guests, two game drives a day, organizing the group, ensuring everyone’s needs were being met and teaching yoga & fitness training- but as I zipped through the savannas & wetlands in the open air jeep or speed through the Okavango Delta on the front of a speed boat, I have never felt so free, so alert, so aware, so joyous & so truly alive.
These moments were made possible because of the immense beauty of Botswana — not only its rich natural habitat full of wildlife, glorious sunrises & the sweet sounds of nature’s symphony in every direction, but the generosity of spirit of its’ people. Further enhancing this experience was the fact that we were completely off the grid — no cell service, no WiFi, no televisions. So, in other words we were truly immersed in each moment. In each jeep ride, in each dinner conversation, in each sunrise and sunset. In each other. A true rarely in today’s world. And a luxury.
I’ve witnessed what pure joy looks like in the eyes and smiles of our guests- the moment they see baby leopards for the first time, the moment when a hippo snort jostles them as they walk to their room, the moment they are greeted with a surprise dinner in the bush, the moment of silence as the sun slips into the horizon casting colors that only Mother Nature can cast into our view. I’ve not only witnessed this joy but I’ve felt it for myself — in watching each of our guests have these experiences for the first time & in witnessing nature up close, with no bars & no human influence. And it reminds me of my purpose, my place in the family of things, so to speak.
And now for the real challenge — how to take this feeling home. How to savor the moments. How to be in tune with nature. How to bow down to the beauty that surrounds me. A few ideas have come to mind — from recording the symphony of nature and playing it during meditation or a few moments prior to falling asleep (I have and I will); to completely unplugging for at least one hour prior to falling asleep; to taking one completely media — free day each week. These are simple, yet meaningful ways to hold on to the power & beauty of Botswana & to try to stay truly connected to myself until I am blessed enough to return.
From the beautiful words of poet Mary Oliver,
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
I’ll be sharing more adventures from our travels in Botswana over the next week- including time spent with the Abu Herd of rescued elephants. Plus, we will be announcing 2019 dates for Botswana, Namibia & beyond in the next weeks. Tune in here for more details or feel free to reach out if you would like to experience Africa with us, or without us.