It was a gorgeous day as a group of 10 people departed Rocktail to head to Lake Sabaya. We rode in a wide open safari truck for 40 minutes with various stops along the way to check out local plants and fruits. One fruit that we all got to sample was Monkey Fruit; it had a hard bright green circular shell which took remarkable strength to open, the insides were a brown-ish orange color. (not very yummy looking). The fruit had a ton of big seeds throughout and tasted like an orange and banana mixed into one fruit. By the time we got to the actual lake it was late afternoon and we were lucky enough to encounter a giant male hippo out of the water. The safari truck slowly and quietly crept forward and we sat for a good 10 minutes before the hippo decided to stand up straight (almost looking like he was going to charge us) then all of a sudden jumped and ran into the water, not very gracefully might I add. (You know its a big deal when your Safari Driver grabs out his cellphone and starts taking pictures too!) We then drove for a few more minutes to our break spot where we all joined in having cold beverages and various snacks such as somosas, raisins, chips, peanuts, and dried mango. We were there until the sun was going to set then we hastily departed. As we were a good 10 minutes away a parent realized they left their glasses, so we did a u-turn and quickly headed back. The wind at this point was freezing and the driver was driving so fast that our butts were practically in the air. The path we had to drive to get back could barely fit out little safari truck, branches were hitting us as we ducked down and clung to the middle person. We made it back around 6, all limbs attached. Needless to say we all had a bunch of fun and took many pictures with our families, friends, and loved ones. :)
Three safari trucks pull away from the lovely resort on Rocktail Beach and head down a bumpy road, carrying old and new members of the TTS20 family. The breeze tugs playfully at my hair as I sway side to side, strategizing how I am to teach the Project Wet “ Hand Washing Song” to the children at the Zulu Primary School. After passing gentle, rolling hills and sky-scraping trees, the trucks pull up to the primary school. Welcoming our group's arrival are toothy grins, bright eyes, and a chorus of squeals dressed in butter-yellow button-downs topped with green striped ties. Anthony, a local of the village and dedicated volunteer for the benefit of his friends, family, and neighbors, introduces himself and leads us into one of the classrooms. As the group enters, we are met with fifty anxious students ranging from age seven to fifteen looking back at us with curious smiles. While we nervously line up in the front of the room, Anthony tells the students and staff they should sing their guests a welcome song. Before I can prepare myself, a seemingly shy girl in the back of the room calls out a melody layered with passion and power as the remaining students respond with perfectly balanced chords that send shivers cascading down my body leaving goose bumps in their wake. Their voices engage in a game of tag, call and response, call and response, as the phrases bound off the walls and tickle my heart strings. The melody builds – the basses grow deeper, stronger, the sopranos sweeter – and the song envelops our awe-struck group, resinating in the room. Soon, as the melody melts softer, softer, to the chilling conclusion, tears prick my eyes and a breathless silence fills the room. It is, by far, the best way to be introduced into a new community.
After visiting the school, where we played many games (duck-duck-goose, tag, little Sally Walker), sang more songs, and had a bittersweet goodbye, the group had a relaxing lunch looking over the peaceful KwaZulu-Natal village. After lunch we visited the local medical clinic and later enjoyed traditional Zulu dance under the the South African sun.
The motor hums as wind and current carry inhibitions off of my sun kissed chest and shoulders. It is midday and the sweet African sun has revolved to her throne high in the horizon. Pink noses and skin tight wetsuits surround me as my gaze scurries from person to person. I look upon people who have loved and cherished my dreams since day one, and those who have done the same for the last three months ever since the moment our aircraft took flight over Dulles, Virginia. The parent trip has hand molded the two realities of my life together. The rich indigo waves of the Indian Ocean have a way of carrying ideas and memories, as I've come to understand. Our time on the zodiac boat has swelled to over an hour and still no sighting of the gentle beasts we all so long to add to our story. All but too suddenly a fine mist floats over the dancing sea as eyes race and minds perk. A mother humpback whale shows us her identifying feature of a smooth hook at the tip of her arching, turning spine. She cradles her baby in the waves, urging him southbound. Their destination is the crisp icy ravines of the Antarctic, a shocking future for the calf who only knows the paradise of Mozambique and South Africa's warm coastal bays. They play and churn the water which waits for its gentle giants to toss and bubble on the glassy surface. A surface which is like a skin. A minute fraction which becomes the definition of 70% of our planet. The whales again break the delicate skin of the ocean's surface. Mother and baby croon to the sun and again delve beneath the deep indigo, appearing as a shadow, a reflection of the clouds. Then it happens, the most graceful Kodak moment I have ever tucked into my memory. She waltzes to the ocean current's repetitive gentle Jembe drum thump. Up above, shattering the crème brule surface and withstanding gravity's overwhelming tug. The breach leads her up and away, twisting and spinning on an adapted stage. The splash is vibrant and zealous, sparkling saline droplets are kaleidoscopic mixed with sunshine. The last moment, second, flash passes and she leaves me without a question as the last thing I can crystallize into memory is the speckled glimmer of a whale's tale.