Monday, July 4, 2011

A Single Grain of Sand

"All you have to do is contemplate a single grain of sand, and you will see
in it all the marvels of creation." Paulo Coehlo, The

Recently I finished reading the book The Alchemist, and I must say what a wonderful book it is. If you have not read it - I highly recommendi t.

It was recently brought to my attention that I have not written a blog in some time and so I thought it's about time to write again. The question then arose -what will I write about? Should I write about the last few weeks that have been rather uneventful? Should I write about meeting the 53 new trainees? Should I write about....? Eventually I came to the decision to write about Nature.

"All you have to do is conctemplate a single grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation."

This quote came to mind (even after having quoted it on Facebook as a status update a few days ago) as being a key phrase and therefore a theme for this blog post.

Last weekend I had the chance to, once again, head to the Narobi National Park and walk along the Safari Walk. The Safari Walk is just as it sounds - a safari that can be taken by foot. Imagine a Zoo cross mixed with a boardwalk - and shazam! you have the Safari Walk.

The Safari Walk gives Kenyans and foreigners alike a "taste of Kenya's rich Animal collection including the rare rare bongo, white rhino, albino zebra, a collection of cats, antelopes and primates." (Quote from Kenya Wildlife Service Website)

So with over 150 species of trees, large cats cheetahs, lions, a leopard, a rhino, pygmy hippos, and hundreds of birds - I would say that it is one of my favorite places to visit in Kenya.

Upon arriving at the Safari Walk I had one mission in mind: Have a good time relaxing! Reconnecting with nature.

I walked up to the entrance, paid my 300Ksh entrance fee (Resident price) and headed inside. It was rather quiet upon entering and that was just perfect. No one around in the entrance area where there was a simulated marshland with at least 30-40 little birds and butterflies enjoying the sunny weather. Three little birds where having a bath in a small puddle. Now I know why a "bird bath" is so neat to have! I honestly never understood the concept of a bird bath as anything more than a decoration in people's yards - but having seen these three little fellas bathing in a puddle I can see how great it must be to have a small sanctuary for birds to come and relax.

As I walked on the boardwalk I ended up coming accross more and more birds all over the trees in the area. The prettiest bird, in my opinion, that I saw is the Pygmy Kingfisher.

I just enjoyed looking at the birds and seeing how they are such an important part of the ecosystem. Certainly I may not have had all the time in the world to see the entire ecosystem at work - and yet I felt connected to it. While contemplating the birds as part of the system, it was simply magical!

Next up I saw a Simba (reference from Lion King; Simba means Lion in Kiswahli). There were actually multiple Simba in the area though one was very close to the viewing area while the other(s) were resting a bit farther away. So once again I stopped to contemplate the single grain of this case that grain of sand being a large cat.

After concemplating the rather large grain of sand there, I proceeded to concemtplate the rare sight of an Albino Zebra (picture of albino zebra). The Albino Zebra is a rare grain of sand to find, especially in the wild - so to see one up close and personal is quite magnificient.

In the same area as the Albino Zebra there was also a toirtoise. Yet another magnificent creature to concemplate.

Later up was a leopard which happeend to be relaxing in tree and so from the observation area it was not easily spotted (pun intended!) So to be able to see it fully, we had to walk up along the boardwalk a little bit to see it in full length relaxing on a tree branch paying no mind to the animals walking on the large flat trees.

Progressing from the leopard area, there was an bongo being fed below the boardwalk. The impala is a rather large animal which I had not seen up close in my previous trip to the Safari walk so I rather enjoyed contemplating it as it was eating not 10 feet below me.

Skipping ahea a little bit, or rather going back, I found the simluated forrest area where I found 2 Dik-Diks which I must say are the cuttest little deer creatures I have ever seen!

Seriously take a moment right now and look at the picture before continuing!

Ok did you see a picture? Good. Now let me tell you a little bit about Dik-Diks. Dik-Diks mate for life. If a Dik-Dik's partner dies, the Dik-Dik will starve itself to death. That level of dedication to something (or someone) is rather rare in humans. So I stalked the Dik-Diks like one of those nature show guys on National Geographic just following them along their way as they were living in their peaceful lives. I loved how their little tails were wagging so quickly and it was so darn cute - for when one fell behind you could tell he/she was about to take off because the tail would stop wagging. I contemplated their existance and their dedication to an idea/ideal while following them for about 20-30minutes. Thankfully, I was alone during this time so there was no disturbance to their natural being.

After some time, they went away from the path area and I decided it was time for me to continue.

After having seen and comtemplated two cute grains of sand I moved on to see what other unique grains I would find.

Near the end of the park I came to the area where there were 2 cheetahs relaxing in the grass not more than 10-15 feet from me. I remembered the legend about the tear marks (please note that there are other variations on the story as well). Well at any rate, as I contemplated the story of how the Cheetah was lonely and the tears were burned into it's face and I contemplated the loneliness I as a PCV will sometimes feel. In contemplating thus, I realized that the feeling of loneliness connects me and the Cheetah - and of course all other humans as well. At that moment when I had that thought of our connectedness, the Cheetah and I shared a moment of understanding - a moment when I was not a different animal and nor was the Cheetah. We were each of us single grains of sand in the same beach we call the universe.

After the Cheetah and I shared our moment the Safari Walk ended but the contemplation of singular grains of sand did not end... The grains of sand may be in different forms, but the contemplation continues.