The Dream that is Africa
They woke me up at 2 am and told me that it was my turn to keep watch over the fire.
A hyena laughed nearby and I groggily threw some wood into the flames. There were five of us sleeping under a huge thorn tree in the middle of the African jungle with no tent. All we had were our
sleeping bags and a fire to protect us from the wild animals.
I stood up and
paced around the sleeping bundles on the ground. I gripped the stick in my hand and narrowed my eyes into the dark trees. At the age of sixteen, I was afraid of nothing and too young to understand
We had seen lion
prints on our way into camp and had been advised that they only came out at night. So far, all I had seen were the glowing eyes of the hyenas, excited by the smell of our flesh and the shimmering
light of the fire.
At dawn, we
cleaned out our camp and got rid of everything that did not belong in the jungle: candy wraps, empty cans and other trash. I stood up and strapped my backpack on, and then scanned the forest and
hills around me. Everything was so green, so magical.
With the morning
sun rising higher by the minute, five heads leaned over the map and we quickly calculated the distance and direction to our next destination. The coordinates pointed us deeper into the forest
and we shuddered with excitement as our journey continued.
way we met buffaloes and laughing monkeys. The gigantic
sizes of the giraffes were fascinating but it was the lion prints on the ground that fully caught our attention. The worry moved from our hearts to our faces and our eyes scanned the bushes in
“We have to get to
camp before dark!” the scout leader said and we hastened our steps.
I looked up at the sky and knew that we weren't going to make it. The
thought of a lion chasing us tilted delicately at the back of my mind.
Late in the
evening, the sun dropped behind the clouds; sooner than we had anticipated and shadows appeared in the trees. “Faster!” the scout leader yelled.
A twig cracked in
the bushes and we started running. My heart pounded like a drum. I thought about my brothers and sisters, and wished that I had stayed home. In a moment of despair, I was thinking the wrong
With our feet
pounding the ground, a silhouette suddenly appeared to my right and I gasped. I half turned in fear and scanned the bushes … and then I saw it and I stopped running.
There in the
trees, an AK 47 rifle at ready to protect us was a game ranger. In the dim dusk light, he made a thump up sign at me and then vanished just as quickly as he had appeared. I walked the rest of
the way to camp, my heart at peace, the fear gone from my face.