I saved the best for last. I’ve been quite blessed to see and experience many different places in a relatively short time. Except for a 2 week trip to Europe in high school and two cruises, my international travel has occurred over the past seven years. Every place I’ve been and every trip I’ve taken has something unique and special about it that I’ll always remember. For now, though, Africa tops them all.
The variety and sheer quantity of wildlife that we were able to see was beyond my expectations. I knew I’d see lions, elephants, giraffes, and hopefully cheetahs and rhinos, but I didn’t expect to see mongooses, tortoises, bats, or anywhere close to the variety of birds we saw. I didn’t expect to see men herding camels on our first day of the trip. Granted, that’s not exactly wildlife, but it was a larger group of camels than I’ve seen anywhere here in Qatar. While I have yet to see an Oryx in Qatar even though it’s the country’s national animal (the Arabian Oryx to be exact), we saw one (an East African Oryx) on the second day of our game drives. We even saw giraffes within minutes of pulling out of the Nairobi airport parking lot. Africa truly is a special place.
It’s not just the animals that are unique here, though. The people are quite special as well. Although we didn’t interact with too many of the locals, we did have the chance to see how the traditional Maasai people live. Their lifestyle is so different from the lifestyle of any other people I’ve visited. From living in huts made of cow dung to men having multiple wives it’s so different from the culture and way of life I come from. As globalization occurs and people in even the most remote parts of the world become more influenced from the Western world, it’s great to see at least some form of these ancient lifestyles still in practice today. As Dawn and I hope to explore parts of Southeast Asia and more of Africa, I’m quite excited about being more exposed to people’s ways of life that are so different from our own.
Set aside how beautiful and different Africa is, and the trip is still very special because my dad and I were able to hit that seventh continent together. Visiting all seven continents was his goal long before it was mine (it was probably even a goal of his long before I was born), but it’s pretty cool that we were able to make the trip to our final two continents together. There was never really a plan to visit Africa as our seventh continent, but I’m quite glad it turned out that way. I’m sure we both figured that Antarctica would be our capstone to that goal, but I’m really glad we were able to complete that list in Africa with most of our family with us.
One more accomplishment knocked off the Bucket List, but many more to go.