………this is a guest post from a friend (from AUZ), whom I met in Zambia this past March during a rhino-hunt! Hey, hey, hey……you animal lovers, hold your fire, we were trying to hunt down the rhinos not with any gun but with our canons & nikons. More about the rhino later,…. but here is the first of a series of guest posts from Michael.
Chrissie and I are just back from three weeks in Africa – the first week to attend the wedding of Ben and Kayt in Cape Town, Ben being my nephew. Thereafter we took advantage of the opportunity to see more of Africa, travelling by train to Johannesburg, then flying to Botswana, Zambia and back to South Africa / Kruger for two weeks in Lodges doing safaris.
What an amazing experience! Way way more than expected, thanks Ben and Kayt for making us do a trip that I think is well under marketed in Australia.
My plan is to talk about some of our experiences over the next few months, relating what we saw and what I learned.
We landed in Cape Town and stayed in Camps Bay which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, so that each night we watched the sun setting into the ocean, something we cant do on the eastern side of Australia.
At night I was surprised to see familiar constellations of stars, being told that we were in the southern hemisphere as is Australia didn’t convince me as we were half a globe from home and I thought the stars would look different.
The moon was the same as home, as expected, but the people were different. So many similarities and so many differences. Table Mountain looks like a table as expected, but so much larger and closer and more real, it was a constant companion wherever we travelled.
Travel is an opportunity to see and experience a different world, or not, as we choose. We met people who were determined to stay safe, dining at restaurants they would do at home, seeing sights that were on a list – one tour guide quoted a Japanese tourist who responded to the question “How was your holiday” with the answer “I don’t know, I haven’t seen the photos yet.”
Chrissie and I have always taken the other extreme – we immerse ourselves in the locality and attempt to experience everything we can. Our view is that we have come to this place to experience it, which includes eating the food, seeing the sights, connecting with the people.
This is a fine concept until the experiences are awful, the food disgusting, the reaction becomes rejection; time and again I found myself comparing my experiences with my past and evaluating them accordingly – this is good, this is bad, this is nice, this is not nice.
On the second morning of our Safari I realised what I was doing and tried to stop evaluating and comparing and just see and accept the experience as it was. I found this hard to do. My senses were overloaded with sights, sounds and smells that were all new – for example scent has a strong impact on me and the pungent, peppery scent of wild sage returned me to our favourite French inspired nursery rather than remaining in the Chobe National Park.
We heard bird calls that reminded us of the birdlife at home and became distracted by those reminisces.
Comparison is natural but it is limiting. When I compare and evaluate I take something away from the real experience, and easily dumb it down to an evaluation of better or worse than…
The tourists we met fall easily into one of two camps – those who wanted to affirm their existing beliefs through travel and those who wanted to expand their existing beliefs.
Jesus was not only well aware of this, but also distressed by it, for example: “He looked at them with anger. He was grieved by their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’, He stretched out his hand and it was restored. The Pharisees went out immediately and conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”
The Pharisees and Herodians had a firmly set belief system which they were not prepared to question, or have questioned. They were those who want life to affirm and confirm their preset belief system. If they ever travelled it would be to affirm their existing beliefs.
Jesus was attempting to redirect their gaze, to show them something different and new. To give them an African Experience.
How often do we reject “truth” because it does not affirm our pre-conceived ideas?
May Peace be with you,