Serengeti, May 2001
Jambo! Your father and I flew here from Arusha this morning. We had to buzz the landing strip because there were so many zebras. They scattered like oil in water. You really could see the Masai villages from the air, although we didn’t fly very high the whole trip. Two thousand, three thousand feet maybe. We left early when the sun was just rising to beat the afternoon thunderstorms. I don’t mind the rain. It’s pretty to listen to and it makes the Tse Tse flies go away for a bit. You were right, they can bite right through my jeans.
We did a game run when we first arrived and saw a lion right away. Leopards have been more difficult to see but Patrick - you remember him - says to look for their tails hanging down from the branches of the sausage trees. Your descriptions have been perfect. It’s odd that now we are here where you live and study and you are home in New York. I wish you could have joined us for fun. Patrick is excellent, though, and he speaks fondly of you. Is he your interpreter for the Masai or does he have another role with the University?
I’m sure your Kiswahili is better than mine, as Patrick smiles at my feeble attempts to direct him when we are out on the savannah. I’ve got the names of the animals down, but oh, the directions! I say stop when I mean go and I just have it all backwards.
I’m starting to understand why you love it here. When I stepped off the plane I had this sudden sense of home. I’ve never felt anything like it, anywhere. Nothing is the same, not the animals, the plants, the smells, the weather. And yet, it somehow feels familiar and comfortable. At least I think I understand why you rarely come home. I would live here if I could.
I am writing this while sitting under a gazebo near the pool at the hotel. It’s a very nice place and I love how it is hidden around the back side of a hill so you can’t see it from the plain. I noticed there are no contrails above us and it is so quiet. Peaceful quite, not something-is-wrong quiet. I can hear the bugs, whatever they are, singing in the tall grass and the Wildebeest have that honking bray which travels a long way. The giraffe sneak up on you, though, because they don’t make a sound and then suddenly, you turn a corner and there they are!
It’s still raining a little and just now a rather large male baboon has come up to the pool to drink. He’s sitting across the water from me and I am out here by myself. Let’s see, you said don’t make eye contact, sit still and do not move or threaten him. Is this what pretty young girls in bikinis at a Las Vegas pool feel like?
He’s moved on now. I admit, I was a little anxious. I haven’t felt like I was in danger at all so far, even when we were just feet from the lion. The only time my heart raced was when we first arrived in country and the men at the Nairobi airport pulled your father out of the line for customs and questioned him because they said he looked like a drug dealer. Can you imagine? Evidently, males with blond hair are drug dealers. Females with blond hair are fascinating.
That would be you, my blond darling. Fascinating. Do they touch your hair a lot? Patrick says the Masai will want to touch my hair. I don’t know how long you are planning to be in New York, but please let’s go to Windows on the World when we get back? You used to love going there. We’ll be here for another two weeks and then your father has business in Istanbul so I’ll go with him there and then I don’t know after that. I’m sure we’ll be back in New York in late June.
It’s tearing me apart to be so far away from you and to never see you at all. Please make an effort to meet us in New York. Please? You can even bring your friend Jennifer. Or is it Jessica? I’m sorry I haven’t written it in my address book. I’ll make sure your father is on his best behavior and we’ll have a very nice dinner and visit.
It’s getting dark and I can hear the hyena off in the distance so I better go back to the room. Your father will wonder what’s kept me. I’ll be waiting to hear that you will still be in New York when we return. I miss your voice and I miss the way you raise your eyebrows when you don’t agree with me, as you are likely doing right now. Maybe you can stay in New York until October. It will be Homecoming then and Trey Williams’ mother said he’d be home for a week or so. He was always sweet on you. Anyway, just a thought.
Love you my dear darling girl,
Jo Taylor used to be a Nurse/Writer and is now a Writer/Nurse. She left the ER and found work from home doing chart reviews which is a bit boring comparatively but it allows her time to read and write daily. She writes poetry and fiction.