Friday, September 20, 2013

why me...why this?

Today is safari day. That means breakfast is served at 6 AM for departure at 7:00. Why so early? Because you have to get into the crater early if you want to avoid the traffic--the line-up of safari vehicles loaded with explorers who are trying to get the same shot you want.

We boarded our vehicles on schedule and made the 5K climb to the gate of the park.


The keeper of the gate...

From there, it was a bouncy 22K drive along the rim of the crater before we descended some 2,000 feet into the caldera, onto the floor of the collapsed volcano. 

The crater is 9 miles across and is surrounded by
9,000-12,000 foot mountain peaks.
Our descent began in the flat-topped acacia forest...

...and took us to the endless, rolling grasslands that form the floor of the crater, home to countless, diverse species of birds and animals

I'll just let Mother Nature take it from here:

range buffalo





wart hog

tufted herons


thousands of flamingos on
Lake Manyara, a salt lake

No, I cannot describe the view from the rim of the crater. Nor did my camera do justice to the place. This is something you must experience for yourself--the breath-taking beauty of it, the soothing silence, the profound sense of peace that is painted in pastels.

You should go. Beg, bargain, or borrow whatever you need to make this trip. If you are discouraged or anxious or angry or sad, go. Free your heart of it. Feed your soul. Feel the peace. This place is bucket-list worthy!

After seven hours in a  squeaking, rattling, groaning safari vehicle we made it back to The Farmhouse in time to relax before dinner. I found myself alone, on a huge balcony overlooking the gardens with no one else in sight. Some were resting in their rooms, some were on a tour of the plantation. The sun felt a little better than warm, but not too hot. The sky was crystalline blue with a gentle breeze. And it was quiet...not an airplane overhead, not a dog barking in the distance, not a car horn or a siren any where. Just the rhythmic swish of a garden sprinkler feeding color into the lawn.

Did I mention paradise? 

Did I mention that tomorrow we pack up and head for home, back to our families and friends--to everyone we've held in our hearts this entire time? That means a four hour drive to Arusha, a visit to the African Tulip for lunch, and to the cultural center for gifts in the afternoon before we board an airplane for 19 hours straight.

I sat on the balcony with a heavy mug of fresh homegrown, ground and brewed coffee. I thought about my friends--the one beginning her battle against pancreatic cancer and another one waging war on a sarcoma. I wondered how my son's shattered shoulder is healing, and I thought about my dog.

I wondered about the baby with the burns, the fellow with the kidney stone, and the child with the tumor behind her eye. 

So...this is my question:
Why me...why this?
Why them...why that?

I get a taste of paradise...they get a taste of hell. 

How is it, I wonder, some of us are caged while others go free? How is it decreed who will be the patient, who the healer and why? Are we at the mercy of mysterious, random forces as indifferent as fate or luck or chance? Is it serendipity that leads some of us to despair, others to joy? Or are we invited to seek out Someone who understands the purpose of pain, the reason for suffering, the price of indifference? Are we sent to be the answer?

What are you praying for?

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