As told to David Hochman
To be honest, Africa wasn’t at the top of our must-see list. We still have active careers, so it’s hard to get away. Ken doesn’t love adventure travel. Maddy hates bugs. We enjoy our luxuries. But friends had come back with incredible photos from a safari, and we thought, “Let’s do this.”
Our adult children took some convincing. Zak, our 26-year-old, liked the idea, but would have loved it if we didn’t come along. He’s an independent globe-trotter. Our daughter, Casey, who’s 29, wanted to know if there would be good shopping. The concept of being off Instagram traumatized her.
Something changed for all of us after Maddy’s mom passed away, followed six months later by Ken’s mom. It was this feeling of, if not now, when? At our age, and our kids’ ages, we may never take a vacation without their partners in the mix, and really go off the grid.
We got a recommendation to go with Micato Safaris and were assured they’d keep us comfortable and safe. In unfamiliar situations, whether walking through a village at night or going up in hot-air balloons, we never felt in danger. That opens up a world of possibilities – it’s like being a child in wonder mode again.
The profound sense of peace surprised us. Here we were in a field with scores of giraffes, thousands of zebras, mighty lions napping not far from baby rhinos nursing, and elephants in the distance. It was collaboration and simple coexistence, sharing land and light and water and resources. Everything is interconnected in a very precise way. It really kind of knocks you out!
You’re displaced from your usual coordinates and your senses come alive. In a Masai village, the older Masai are called “elders,” but the younger people are referred to as “junior elders.” It’s an acceptance of the turning wheel. We’re young and then we’re old, whether we’re a tree or an animal or a person. We’re alive and then not alive. That’s the way of life on the savanna, and it forces you to appreciate what’s here in all its glory.