“We are going to Africaaaaa!!!” – Those were the words I joyfully announced last September at my husband’s 50th Birthday party. Having been a veterinarian for over 20 years and an animal lover his whole life, traveling to Africa for a photographic safari was right at the top of his bucket list. I was delighted to secretly make the arrangements and surprise him with this gift at the party.
For months we planned and tweaked the itinerary. Rwanda, Tanzania, Ngorongoro Crater, briefly Kenya and finally South Africa. We were lucky that we had a BRC Alumni family friend who owned Executive Adventures Safari and they really made things smooth and easy. The phrase “trip of a lifetime” seemed to be coming together.
Finally, the day arrived we were to leave. Work and kids and dogs all were being looked after and we buckled our seat belts for the first leg of our journey. Excited, nervous, overjoyed, anxious – a flood of feelings washed over me as I watched the Austin skyline disappear from the window.
From the moment we arrived, Africa was magical. The sights, sounds, smells, the landscape, the culture, the people – there was an air of old world knowledge and understanding about life and its evolution that is hard to define. Women walk with the grace of a runway model while balancing a filled basket on their head and with an infant strapped to their back. Men and boys work sunup to sundown cultivating huge plots of land and planting corn and vegetables with no modern machinery, usually only a pick and a hoe. Africa has a certain dignity and wisdom about it I have never before encountered.
And the Serengeti! Oh my gosh! Magical doesn’t begin to touch it…vast and wild and beautiful and ancient. So many different types of animals I can’t begin to name them all. Most of you have heard or read about the lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras – the list goes on and on. One less discussed, and not so pleasant, part of the safari experience is a tiny little creature called a tsetse fly.
One morning, my husband, our driver and our guide were driving back to our lodge from an early morning game expedition. We went through a patch of acacia trees and Johan, our guide, remarked that tsetse lay their eggs in those types of trees. Suddenly, without warning, we were under attack! These little bugs were everywhere – inside and outside the vehicle, above our heads and at our feet. They literally were flying into our faces and biting us through our clothes.
I looked over at my husband, he had his hat off and was madly swatting hundreds of tsetse – so were the guys in the front, all to no avail. Somehow, Jonathan and I locked eyes and the absurdity of the moment overcame us. We both started laughing hysterically. Laughing where tears start running down your cheeks and your belly hurts after.
Our African driver turned around and in broken English asked, “Why you laughing?”
Why are we laughing? Why are we overcome with joy? We are laughing because we are alive, we are laughing because we are in recovery, because we love each other, because our family is reconciled; because we are on the trip of a lifetime, because we have a host of friends…we can’t begin to list or explain why, today, laughter is such good medicine.
I don’t think we even answered the man. I don’t think we could catch our breath, or, even if we did, that we would be able to explain. If you are reading this, and you have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, and your life in God’s hands was better than anything you could have planned – well, then you get it. If not, you’ll just have to trust me – it was funny!
Peace and Love,
Marsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery Family of Programs
Jonathan and Marsha Stone – 2018 African Safari