My girlfriend and I traveled recently to South Africa. Personally, I have a hate-love relation with traveling. Before leaving, I always prefer to stay home, just relax. At home, I don’t have the chance of missing a flight, getting lost, … Once at the destination, some of the worries leave my mind (but not all).
I actually preferred a holiday closer to home and my girlfriend wanted to go to Africa: a compromise must be made! So, South Africa it was!
A lodge in a (relatively small) private reserve was our residence of seven nights. All safari’s and other activities were with the other 18 tourists from staying at the same lodge. To increase the curiosity of the guests, the lodge set up a competition: indicate the highest amount of identified species (mammals, birds, trees, …) on a list. For this competition I had three major disadvantages:
- my girlfriend couldn’t care less about the list
- didn’t have a camera (for postponed identification of the species)
- very bad internet (which is actually not a bad thing)
All I could do was rely on my memory and a couple of posters in the lodge with some common species. Spoiler: We didn’t win. But that doesn’t matter!
My childhood passions
As a child, I always had a big interest in nature and everything around it. When learning to read, the fairytales didn’t appeal to me and I hated to read them. Encyclopedia, on the other hand, I found wonderful. Of course, they also have a lot of pictures. During my childhood, my passions underwent an evolution:
- Dinosaurs! What young fellow doesn’t find dinosaurs fascinating! (Nowadays, I forgot most of the random facts I knew about them.)
- Whales were the next step in my evolution. Whales are even bigger! As I live in Belgium, it is quite hard to see one in the flesh, especially if you don’t live near the coast.
- Birds – back to dinosaurs! – was my next obsession. With the added advantage that I could spot them in the backyard of my parents!
I still remember finding a blue/black feather of the eurasian jay. The feather was one of my dearest possessions for a long time. To be honest, I have no idea where it is now. Probably I put it somewhere I would never lose it, causing me to lose it.
Growing up, other interests emerged: studies, computers, linux, games, watching shows, … If you go to South Africa, the only goal is to see as much of the nature as possible. This revitalized my interest in nature. It had never left me completely, but it got a bit lost with all the other stuff.
Once home (happy to be home, I always like to come back from holidays), I went to my parents home and collected my four most important nature books (2 birds, 1 general and 1 with insects). (I suspect my girlfriend thinks I hit my head somewhere in Africa.)
I have too many things to do to become as consumed by it as I was when I was a kid. We will see how it evolves. Refreshing my memory and being able to identify most of the common birds/plants might already be a lot of fun!