Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In My Absence and Your Departure

It’s just camping. I’ve gone camping a dozen times since I’ve been here and there have been parts of this experience where normal day-to-day living felt more like camping than anything else. Still, it’s Easter weekend and I’m excited for a trip with 10 friends to northern Botswana.

Jenah and Aaron are two Kenyans who have lived and worked in Pikwe for 16 years and offer to bring us to their private camp site on the Letsibogo Dam. We load up their truck with tents, sleeping bags, groceries and booze. We arrive at dusk on Friday.

It’s hard to do the experience justice so I will simply say that it is true that absence can illuminate affection. And remind.

I have not seen a body of water in one full year. Rivers, yes. Ponds, yes. But this was no pond. This was an enormous pool, no less than 100 miles in circumference. Gorgeous in its breadth and with the garnish of picturesque islands and exceptional serenity.

We set up camp on a ledge overlooking the banks and facing the sunset. In three days we see two wedding parties and one family picnic. Otherwise the view and peace are completely ours.

Canoeing, hiking, jogging, fishing, grilling, drinking… everything a camping trip should be.

Still, there were moments when I caught them stopping mid-task to stare out and breathe the beauty and experience that unexplainable human fascination with water in its vastness.

I spent Sunday morning crossed legged on a rock for several hours. Feeling all those things that can never quite make their way to us in the absence of nature and stillness. Maybe you were there with me. Thirty five relatives in a room where I should have been and where you were leaving us. We say goodbye in different ways. And in different places. I sat in my Paradise and you in yours and things aligned.

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