Laura’s memories of our August trip

Here’s what Laura wrote after our August 2012 trip:

The Open Heart Safari was perfectly designed for someone like me – a person who wants to slow down and experience the beauty and subtleties and challenges of Africa. With its focus on tuning in to the environment using the senses, I found myself looking with an artist’s eye at the savannah, the plains and the bends in the riverbed. 

If only I could paint what I saw! 

The Open Heart Safari is true to its name. In its first tour, it attracted a group ready to be touched by the remarkable Zambian landscape and its welcoming people. We talked about how we were open – and closed –  and took note of what touched us and what we pulled away from. We used different contemplative practices, movement, and expressive arts to connect to the environment, explore our experiences, and to keep our minds, bodies and spirits healthy.  This was my third trip to Zambia, and I had found previous trips hard on my body and my spirit. The OHS design and the camaraderie served to make this my best trip to-date. I loved the invitation to travel with an open heart and the opportunity to combine safari adventures with community visits and time with activists, youth and nonprofit leaders. I can’t wait  until the next trip!

Here are some items from my palette:

 – watching the day unfold slowly, the sunrise illuminating the bend in the river, the subtle differences in golden grass, scrub, and antelope; turning the bend to see elephant emerging from the bush, looking out at the river as hippos made a retreat to warm water

 – beginning each day with meditation, or poetry, or yoga alongside others who are interested in the quiet and beauty inside and out; opening our eyes to find elephants have arrived, baboons threatening to steal our shoes

– learning how local people feel aboutlarge conservancies – typically owned by outsiders – designed to protect the wildlife that they are accustomed to hunting and eating

– tracking lions by foot, listening to guides’ imitating the sounds of lions, leopard, antelope and hippo, and learning to distinguish the sounds for myself especially at night. I love the hyena’s high pitched call and was surprised by the rumbling sound of the lion- visiting with villagers, dancing with the women’s’ group by day and hanging out at teenagers’ outdoor nightclub by night

–  discussing what it’s like to witness an abundance of wildlife in its natural habitat, to be a person of privilege in a land where nearly all are poor, to walk through urban slums where cholera is a recent memory, to be living in a country on its fifth president with a constitution still in flux nine months into term