As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to travel to Africa to see lions, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and the like. I think it started with my love of dinosaurs, which led to my interest in paleontology and geology, to a fascination with the formation and movement of the continents, and eventually to the animals that roamed them. Most specifically, the animals that roamed Africa.
When I was young I devoured books about dinosaurs. One of my favourite books was a book on geology that my cousin gave me for Christmas. It combined a brief history of earth with a fantastic section on dinosaurs, a family tree of animals (with highlights of some of our modern favourites), an introduction to geology and maps and how they’ve changed through the eons. The transition from Pangea to our present day arrangement of continents fascinated me. And when given the chance I couldn’t not order a series of science cards that provided short stories and statistics on animals from around the world1. They were the nerd equivalent of baseball cards, but so much better.
And I think these things naturally led to an interest in Africa. It was so far away and unknown, but full of so many of the things that my nerdy little self had read about. Mountains, the skeletal remains of Lucy, dinosaur fossils, and of course an assortment of animals like nothing I could ever hope to see at home (save for in a zoo).
So when I learned that my Leave For Change mandate would have me working in Malawi, you have to know that the nerdy kid in me was wide-eyed and dancing around excitedly2. This feeling hasn’t changed since the first moment I stepped onto African soil. And every time I think about where I am, I realize how fortunate I am to be here, to get to experience this amazing country, its people, its culture, its everything.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that when Justeen – another volunteer with WUSC3 – asked if I or Jonathan wanted to join her and two others on a weekend safari, I jumped at the opportunity. Even writing about going on safari has me grinning from ear to ear. This is a dream come true for a very nerdy little kid. This is a dream come true for a very nerdy adult.
And so tomorrow at noon a group of us will be making the 4 or so hour drive from Lilongwe to the Liwonde Safari Camp. We’ll be staying there overnight both Friday and Saturday, with a safari adventure planned for both days (one on land, and one on the water). There’s no guarantee that I will get to see all of the animals I want to see, but that still hasn’t reduced my excitement.
All I know is that by tomorrow eve I should be relaxing at the Liwonde Safari Camp with my Leave For Change friends watching as the sun sets over Africa. And you have to know that both the nerdy kid in me, and the nerdy adult he became are going to be smiling from ear to ear.
1 Add in my love of math and it can’t really come as a surprise that I’m as big a nerd as I am 😉
2 I may or may not have been mimicking the nerdy kid in me.
3 World University Service of Canada.