Monday, 30 July 2012

Massive brag alert!

In Mongolia I galloped, full pelt, across these vast, open and endless plains. Well, not me, the horse did the galloping. It would be pretty funny if it was just me. Wind in my hair, making 'clip clop' sounds with my teeth.

Anyway, the point is that that was a time when I experienced absolute freedom. Exhilaration, happiness, joy and just utter, utter freedom.

I was with this nomadic family and the dad took me out for a ride and showed me a bit of Mongolia. I told him I could ride (because all Mongolians can ride horses like experts and I didn't want to let him down). I had done a few novice excursions with ponies as a kid. It was amusing. Their technique is so different to Western riding technique. I felt like I was in a Ghengis Khan movie. I know he didn't make movies - I mean a film about Ghengis Khan.

After we galloped, we climbed a rock, well it was more a cliff, and we ended up stumbling upon this tiny, tiny little monastry that some hermit monk looked after. It was only one little room. We spent some time looking at the prayer wheel inside and I learned about some of the different buddhas.

After the ride, we went home to the ger, (the big felt tents that Mongolians live in) and ate yak and drank salted, butter milk, (bleurgh). We talked. Mostly about the toilet because that was the only word in Mongolian I could say at the time. 

The whole experience was special. Really, really special. Life changing and deeply moving.

I never thought that I would be lucky enough to have that experience even once in my life, but yesterday something happened that made me feel almost identical.

When I came to Zambia, I knew that on my weekends off work I wanted to try and do some excursions because there's a trillion things to do here if you love nature and you don't mind getting dirty. So this weekend I chose Lochinvar. It's a national park famous for its birds, and as I'm sure you know by now I love birds.

I was so excited! Me and some work friends, Charles and Hakalima, hired a four by four and drove for about an hour and half to the place, which is quite close by Zambian standards. Charles and I rode in the back of the truck so we could feel the wind in our hair and the dust from the road in our lungs.

The drive was exciting enough. Just so many sights on the way. And at one point I thought it could have been Mars because everything was so red from the dust of the road.

When we got there it was instantly amazing. I saw so many birds. Amazing ones. Ones I'd never have thought I would see in my life. I wrote a list of the ones I saw, but I'll send that to you individuals on request because I know its not everyone's thing.....

At some point during our drive around the areas we made a decision, with the ranger at our side, to fully off road and go on a mission. And then all of a sudden I was in the Africa that you see on David Attenborough programmes. Long, yellow grass, the occasional windswept tree, plains and plains of just incredible landscape. We drove, seemingly with no destination, but fast, which was exciting and adventurous. Then all of a sudden, from nowhere beside us and thundering past were hundreds and hundreds of Zebra.

They were so beautiful. And just doing what they do. Running, stopping to eat, feeding their young, running some more. And their line was broken up by the occassional wilderbeest. I felt so priviliged. So lucky and so free to hear them running besides us, like it was a race.

The day went on and was punctuated by sightings of impala, oribi, Kafue lechwe, common duiker, (no I'd never heard of them, either) and thousands of birds.

As the day was closing I was buzzing. And then - the icing on the cake. We had slowed to find a path to follow back to the main roads and we came to a near halt by this black rock. After a pause the rock opened its wings and flapped them and, oh my word, this bird was the biggest thing I've ever seen in my life! It was absolutely stunning! I guessed the span from wing to wing to be about four metres!!! It was enormous! It turns out it was a martial eagle. The biggest eagle in Africa and my estimation was right - these things can grow!

Amazingly it flew up to a tree and perched on this branch that was basically a twig. How do they do that? When I sit on a plastic chair I can't give it all of my weight.

Anyway. There was more, there was the boabab tree and the hot springs, the fishermen's wives, the hollow rock that ancient people used as a drum to respect their ancestors, savannah, woodland, etc, etc.

I am so lucky. I am so unbelievable lucky that I don't know how to thank life. It is good to me. And nothing is wasted on me. I love these experiences.

But I want to share them! So I humbly invite you all to Zambia for next weekend's excursion - Malawi! Coming?


  1. What an amazing experience! I saw a massively horrific possum was also breathtaking but in a very different way. xo

  2. Lucy, your writing in inspirational. It makes me appreciate things and want to go on an adventure at the same time. I can feel your smile through your words.

    Melissa x

  3. yes please and then botswana eh. your mummy

  4. wow! just wow! i felt like i was there with you reading this! :) christie xxx

  5. Awww you guys rock the party! Amarra - aren't possoms the cute ones? We don't have them in Wales, but I think I might have seen one in LA.

  6. ahh lush' i can imagine you squeeling the whole time!!
    Chanty Warrior xx