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Savory Global Network Travel Journals: Zimbabwe in May

The following is the first in a series of posts about Maezy, my daughter’s, first trip to Africa and my third trip for a Savory Global Network training. She is five years old. The Savory Institute invited her, and other family members of staff, to join the team and Savory Network hub leaders in Zimbabwe at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management–the original Savory Network hub. It is magical, happy place. 

MAY 24, 2016 Tuesday: Savory Global Network Arrives at the Africa Centre

9 pm, Dimbangombe, Zimbabwe

Today Maezy and I arrived at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management. Maezy felt instantly at home—as is her typical reaction to travel. She ran around exploring the dining hall, the rondavel training center and the grassy area between the hand-built buildings.

She woke up completely at the new, Chinese-funded airport in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The Chinese are investing a lot in Zimbabwe. Before that, she was sacked out on our suitcase—which she rode through all the airports. She also slept on the flight from San Francisco to London and London to Johannesburg. We had a row of seats to ourselves so she stretched out across the entire row and slept soundly.

When we arrived at Dimbangombe, the air felt soft and smooth. We took a walk with Hilda, a podcaster with Wise Traditions from Washington DC here to interview Allan, to see the free range pigs and chickens. We played games with her like Mother May I and Red Rover. The whole Savory Institute team played with us, as well as Kelsey, Mike and Bill, who are guests of team members. We laughed and played as the sun set.

In the kitchen, the clanking of the pots and spoons cut through the soft air and distant sounds of the birds in a peaceful, homey way. Maezy made friends with Sevi, Daniela’s 14 year old daughter (who is a wonderfully kind, intelligent, mature, well rounded, well traveled, insightful, beautiful person—an excellent role model for Maezy).  Maezy ran around and played on the grass—free and happy and confident with all her new friends here. 

We ate dinner with Allan, Savi, Chris, Kelsey, Bryon, Shelly. Dinner was steaks with roasted veggies and a salad— similar to our meals at home. We also ate a local fish—the best I had ever tasted. It did not taste like any fish I had ever tried before. It was closer to a wild game bird flavor than fish. After living on my trail mix of tiger nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, gogi berries, dried bananas, my homemade date bars and jerky, for two days as we traveled, a home cooked meal tasted amazing.

 May 25, 2016 Wednesday

4:30 am, Dimangombe, Zimbabwe

Last night, under our mosquito net, I wrote in this journal and Maezy wrote in hers. I was so tired, I kept falling asleep and writing sentences from short dreams. We slept hard. I’d forgotten how well I sleep here. The earthen walls, the silence, the clean air.

Predators

The bush is noticeably more alive than when I was here two years ago in August. We saw baboons on our drive in, which we saw a lot of two years ago. At the watering hole near the training center we saw a whole herd of springbok. When Chris, Kelsey, Hilda, Maezy and I became visible to them, they bounded into the thick bush, but stopped and gathered so we could see their swishing short tails and the twitch of an ear. The rest of their bodies blended in with the bush.

At dinner Allan told us of the pythons that are preying on the chickens (and we thought foxes and hawks were difficult!). Chris asked him if it would be safe to walk in the dark back to Elephant Camp, where he and Kelsey are staying.

“Well you’d make it if you had to,” Allan said in his soft, blunt manner. “But you may encounter jackals, hyenas, elephants and lions, so its best to drive.”

“I’ll drive,” Chris said.

At 3:30 this morning Maezy and I woke up. Perhaps the jet lag. Perhaps the low, rumbling huffs and grunts we heard in the bush outside our rondavel. I remembered the sound instantly. I heard it before at Kruger National Park, South Africa in 2005 when I camped there with the Knight family.

Lions.

Maezy and I scrambled through our mosquito netting to the door. We cracked it open and listened. We heard it again. Those are lions, I told Maezy.

“I hear it,” she said, “now close the door.”

Citizen of the world

I met Brad, Jesse and Peter, the film crew from i.e. media with Chris Kerston and Kelsey to seven countries in 21 days to create the short films for the Savory Institute, which we will show at our global events in November. They just finished a film project about a woman who broke the Guinness World Record for distance running. She did it at 38 after starting to run two years earlier as a way to cope with a horrific past of sexual abuse, human trafficking and personal tragedy. The hope for the film is a spot at Sundance.

Brad, a former musician and now filmmaker, and Tre are long-time friends. As we watched Maezy play with Sevi and race joyfully around the dining area as if she were at a family dinner, they told me about their children. Tre’s goal for his boys was to have them experience life on each continent (except Antartica, he said, due to Jen, his wife’s, veto) from the perspective of people who live there. Trevor has done this and Preston has Africa left to visit.

“Citizens of the world,” Brad said. There is no education to parallel these experiences. When he said this, I flashed on a memory I had of Maezy when she was tiny—not even a year. I was driving on our windy Red Rock Road near Reno. I looked back at her through the mirror and had this overwhelming sense that she would be a traveller. A citizen of the world, I said to myself then. And so she is becoming.

“Just think,” Tre said, “all that energy, that force—she will someday choose what to direct that energy toward.” When she does discover that sense of purpose, watch out.

Today Maezy plays with Sithi while I meet with the Savory Institute team. A run is planned for early this morning, as it is for each morning. Will the lions change the plans? The rooster from down the hill calls confidently now. The lions are quiet now (or moved away, I hope).

Yoga is hosted at 6:15 at Elephant Camp with Andrea. So much to  look forward to—more meals and conversations, more wildlife sightings, more time in the soft air making plans and decisions that matter. Watching my daughter play and learn in Africa.  I can’t believe this is work.