Descriptive Essay – My African Journey and a Lesson from the Wild

I would never, in my most active imaginative indulgences, have seen myself travelling to Africa, especially on such short notice. Of course like many young people with a rather fairy-tale view of life, I had believed for a long time that I would save money in the course of my working life and travel the world, with Africa being one of the many destinations I had subconsciously ticked as ‘must visit’.
My parents were initially the ones set to travel to Kenya – a country they had longed to visit. However, my mother could not get her leave to coincide with my father’s. Sudden occurrences at my mother’s organization put to paid her plans, and in her magnanimous nature she beseeched my father to take me along in her stead, since they had already done most of the bookings and paid for hotels, lodges and other such expenses.
On 12th August 2009, my father and I set off to Kenya. The plane landed at the Jommo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and I could immediately gain the sense of being in a different continent. Africa’s air is distinct – the fresh air is laced with a dusty yet invigorating component, and although I had to purchase numerous handkerchiefs throughout my stay, (I had a running nose as a consequence), the air sort of embraces you, and I will forever cherish African air’s hold. My father must have felt it too, because on several occasions throughout our tour of Kenya I caught him breathing in deep and savoring the feeling, an act I never saw him undertake back home.
We arrived at midday, and Nairobi is hot and dry in August. The sun shone bright over our heads as we tried to pick a taxi out of the many that were packed next to the exit of the airport’s International Arrivals gate. The taxi drivers at the airport instinctively know a potential customer, and they ganged around us each trying to nudge us towards their taxi. Before my father knew it, one driver had already grabbed his bag and started off, and for a split second we both thought we had been mugged at noon in Nairobi! The driver shoved my father’s bag in his car, and we had no choice but to indulge the daring man. Our destination was Nairobi’s Hilton hotel. It took us about an hour to move from the airport to the hotel – a journey of about 10 miles! Roads in Nairobi are veritable death traps. It appeared to me as if everyone was competing for the little space on the narrow roads, including pedestrians, who shocked me by their complete disregard for their safety because they literally walked on the roads alongside the cars. The taxi would move slowly for a few meters, then halt – either to give way to a kamikaze pedestrian intent on crossing the road, or simply because of the pile-up of cars along the way. The midday heat was exacerbated inside the car, which had no air-conditioner, and before long, my dad and I were sweating profusely. The taxi driver did not sweat at all despite the fact that he wore a worn-out suit and a tie.
We were relieved when an hour later we approached the entrance to the Hilton hotel. My dad paid the taxi man, and we promptly entered the hotel lobby, which was air-conditioned, and the refreshing coolness inside the lobby made me quickly forget the rather uncomfortable journey to the hotel. I asked for a glass of water as my dad sorted out the matter of hotel rooms, I gulped the water, and as I was about to take my last big sip, I coughed after having chocked on the water, I had suddenly remembered that the taxi driver had gone away with my bag in the trunk!
Naturally I was in a sour state after having lost my bag. Besides my clothes and other personal effects such as my camera, I had lost crucial documents such as my passport. My dad promised to follow up on the lost bag but even he could not convince me that I would ever recover my bag, and I could see that he also appreciated that fact. Exhausted, I went to my room and immediately fell asleep, deeply. I remember that I had dreams that were vaguely related to my experiences thus far in Africa. For instance, I dreamt that somebody grabbed my dad and went away with him, with my mother and I screaming for him. In another dream somebody had poisoned my dog, and I found the man attempting to bury it at our backyard. My first day in Africa had began on a sour note, and I longed for the safety of my home back in the US, the safety of my neighborhood, and the safety of a routine, predictable life.
On the second day, we were to go to the famed Maasai Mara game reserve to watch the wildlife there. My dad and I had decided to make the best of our trip. We took a tour van driven by a woman. She was huge, and had very dark skin. Kenyans tend to have rather brown skin as opposed to the pitch-dark tone of the Sudanese, and our driver was pitch-dark. She told us she was of the Luo tribe, and that she had always wanted to work as tour driver. She was obviously good at making friends, because soon she was laughing and making jokes as the van drove along the dusty, pot-holed road that leads to the Maasai Mara.
We were lucky because we right on time to view the famed wildebeest migration. The migration involves the movement of tens of thousands wildebeest, zebras and even gazelles from Kenya’s Maasai Mara, across the crocodile-infested Mara river, and into Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park (Holdo et al, 2011, p.3). The specter is poignant. The wildebeest move in droves; fearless and focused, before plunging into the river and swimming across. Some die, some survive. Some drown, others are eaten by crocodiles. The animals seem so intent on crossing that one could easily believe that not even nature itself could stop them. The collective noise (a determined groan) of the animals can be heard from miles away. My dad and I watched the migration in awe. When the last wildebeest crossed the river, I was left to ponder, admire, and draw lessons from the life of the wildebeests.
Determination. That is the lesson I got from the wildebeests. Determination against all odds. After viewing the migration, I decided to enjoy my stay in Kenya, in spite of whatever had happened, or would happen. Things would work out in the end, as they did for the wildebeests that eventually got to the other side; finding fresh green grass to graze on. Things worked out for me too, I thoroughly enjoyed my two-week stay in Kenya, and was pleasantly surprised when I was called to the hotel lobby and handed my bag, apparently the taxi driver had taken it upon himself to bring by bag back, with all contents intact. It is indeed true that all is well that ends well.