First Trip to Africa

When I was a teenager, I spent summers reading the National Geographics stored in my grandmother’s attic. I disappeared from those dull, never-ending days into a world full of gorillas and man-eating lions, of exotic peoples dressed only in feathers, of crocodiles and snakes and fish that could eat me. From old black-and-white photographs I conjured a fantastical place that mixed the jungles and deserts and continents of the world and labeled it Africa!

In 1996, fresh off a 747, I smelled the air of southern Africa for the first time: soft and warm as clean sheets drying in the sun, mixed with a whiff of smoke and sweet mulch, the mineral scent of sand, hot fur and the dry and dusty trees. I was absolutely convinced I had breathed this scent before, as if my body remembered Africa as the birthplace of my species.

This is the first photo I took of wildlife in Africa: a bushbuck in the small park that surrounds Victoria Falls, on the Zimbabwe side.  And in the five trips I’ve taken since then, I’ve never seen another bushbuck.  That’s Africa: never the same day twice.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill

photograph by Cheryl Merrill

6 responses

  1. here in kenya alot of them,visit and see.

  2. I am going there in November, so maybe I can get a photo of this shy creature.

    1. This photo was taken on the Zimbabwe side, where the park is a little larger. I took it early one morning when not too many people were out and about. Where are you going on your trip?

      1. My daughter lives in Harare, so we will probably try and go to Vic Falls and Kariba again, love going there and also to Mana Pools.

  3. This is a fascinating blog, Cheryl, and the photography is fabulous. Thank you for this beautiful close-up.

    1. Thanks Kim. Really glad you dropped by. I try to post every few days or so, since I’m currently finishing the final draft of my book.

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