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Okay, so today is the day I have returned from two weeks in Africa. I'm back in the USA. It's a gorgeous cool sunny day in Hoboken and it feels great to be alive. But even if it were a stormy Monday, I think it would be a beautiful day for me. I'm still overflowing with Africa, with that fantastic life energy that exists nowhere in a more potent form than there.
It never ceases to amaze me. I can't help but see Africa as a sort of super environment, where everything is bigger and more dynamic, where the raw energy of life burns brighter than anywhere else on earth,
What combination of earth, sunlight and elements creates an environment that can produce such animals as Africa's charismatic wildlife: elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinoceri, etc. etc. etc.? Even Africa's smaller animals, like the warthog, are formidable creatures.
I was in Africa for the first two weeks of May, enough time to soak up a good bit of that African energy and fortitude. I feel like King Kong.
Call me crazy, you will never convince me that my theory is incorrect. Breathing in that atmosphere with every breath for two weeks, soaking in all that great Africa energy via every sense day after day, is a tonic that has a measurably healthy effect on body, mind and spirit.
How do you measure the value of the paradigm shift you may experience from coming into close encounters with the great predator cats, the mighty elephants, the mystifyingly graceful giraffes, the dazzling Darwinian improbability of the zebras, the exploding colors of the birds… And even as you are absorbing all that, it is ultimately the Africans who are welcoming, hosting and guiding you who make the greatest impression on you.
Allen, the guide who led boat excursions in the channels of the Okavango Delta at Xugana Island Lodge, warned his guests about the African virus. "You'll be back," he said. "People who come here catch the African virus."
If there is such a thing as the African virus, I no doubt caught it. But the good side is that the actual experience of traveling in Africa is healthier than any drug on the market.
Maybe it turns your clock in reverse. That seems feasible enough. It's in the opposite hemisphere in terms of both north-south and east-west. It's the opposite quadrant of the earth. Water spins the other way in the drains down there. Maybe by some strange principle it hurls you backward in time while you're there.
It's where human life originated, so say the anthropologists. It was the environment that first produced human life. That's something to think about. Surely something stirs in our genetic memory when we return to the source of humanity.
Whatever it is, of course you can't explain it, but there is no doubting it when you are in Africa. And in some ways it's even more striking when you come back home to America and see it in your new perspective.
The morning and evening game drives in most safari camps are structured around tracking and observing wildlife, and that provides a focus. But whether your trackers succeed in finding you a lion or a leopard that day or not, the experience of riding around in the wilderness for a few hours is great medicine.
After a few days you will feel it palpably. You cannot hold yourself apart from that environment. It will slowly, but surely and inexorably Africanize you.
So yeah, sure I feel good. Hell yes. I just got back from Africa.
David Cogswell is executive editor covering tours and packages, Africa and the Middle East.
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