Here is my journey into the heart of Africa; a true adventure, surrounded by the wildest of God's creatures the strongest animals in the world, the biggest, and the meanest. Now I know what you are thinking...Jaclyn is God's meanest creature. Tis not so! The hippo makes Jaclyn look like the nicest little princess to ever live. I went to O'Hare yesterday evening (the time change has me a bit jet lagged). Anyway, I will skip all the transportation details but after a series of planes and shuttles here I am in the Odzala-Hohoua national park in the Congo! I have one thing in mind here, to experience nature in the most ancient of conditions in a place where I am truly the bottom of the food chain. I have been riding in what seems like the background of every major National Geographic film I have ever seen. Africa (more specifically the Republic of the Congo) is as diverse a place as any. One second you are in the Amazon rain forest and the next you are crossing the wild savannah with the African elephant on one side and a pride of lions on the other side.
I have traveled all this way and spent thousands of dollars for only thing. My whole life I have been mystified by Giraffes. These are possibly the craziest damn thing God has ever made besides women. (HA) I really want to see one in its' natural environment. I want to study it and understand the odd yet perfect design in a way that can't be captured by a trip to the zoo with kids mocking the wondrous beast. After driving through the savannah I noticed a cluster of acacia trees. Having done some former research on the matter I decided to camp out in these trees for the night in hopes a noble giraffe would appear in the morning to feed on the leaves. Climbing this tree is extremely difficult because of the huge thorns but the good part is that it will also be hard for lions to climb. We all know when a lion gets a thorn in its' paw it turns into a 12 year old girl and therefore is essentially not a threat unless Hannah Montana comes on the radio. If you are near a lion or a 12 year old girl when in fact Miley Cyrus pollutes the airwaves there is only one hope. Run. Run like hell. Run like hell and pray to the God you serve for sweet redemption. The sad truth is either one is going to kill you, but if you run you at least have a chance to pray and say sorry for all the beer you stole from some old man's porch in the back roads of Fulton county AR.
So, anyway, I'm in this thorn tree listening to night of Africa and it is almost as loud as a night in Chicago. Instead of sirens and gunshots I hear hippos roaring, bats fluttering, and hyenas laugh in the distant but not distant enough expanse. For this night we are all one, part of a giant ecosystem where the only advantage I have is a brain with reason. I reasoned I should stay in the thorn tree. It was hard to sleep but eventually I did maneuver myself into a position where I could gather some shut eye. I waited and waited dreamt and slept. I dreamed I was kayaking with Bruce Lee down the Amazon River giving hippos the one inch punch of death. Bruce would punch the hippos directly between the eyes with no hint of fear, staring straight into the tusk and teeth of doom…BAM. Hippo goes down we roar with laughter as he hands me a Keystone light. Then suddenly I am awakened…
I look straight into the eyes of a giraffe. He is huge and I am intimidated beyond belief. He does not know that I am here yet. Have you ever seen a giraffe do necking? They swing their heads like bats and he could literally turn me into what would like squashed watermelon in a matter of seconds. I am afraid…very afraid. Then I think to myself…of all things why in the #*% were me and Bruce Lee drinking Keystone Light? At that moment I knew what I needed to do.
I swung with all my might, startling the beast and punched the giraffe directly between the eyes. THUD! Oh no, what's this? He didn't go down; in fact he looks extremely pissed off. My heavens what have I done. Twas the dream of Bruce and the Keystone that led me astray and now I see the telltale signs of my impending doom. The giraffe, (by this point I named him bloodthirsty) rears back his head like Mark McGuire jacked on so many steroids the ball turns itself around and runs for the outfield to escape the punishment about to be bestowed on it. So, like I said, Bloodthirsty rears back his head, cocking for a swing that is sure to make me meet my maker and I pray. "God please forgive me for stealing beer off that old man's porch so many moons ago. In my defense it was all Dustin Jones' idea and I only went along for the ride." At this point the head is zooming towards me and shadow cracks over my body. I look up to see what is giving me forgiveness from the suns harsh rays. It is the African Fish Eagle, proud and strong. At this point I say to hell with this, I must fight. I dove superman style straight into his sternum barely escaping the zooming goliath head that wants to smash my nuggets into peanut butter. I head butt him so hard my neck cracks but with a thud that would startle the great silver backed gorilla the beast falls. I sit up and look upon the lying beast who I had so admired. He gasp, bloodthirsty slowly turns his head towards me. I had not killed him, only knocked his breath away. In that moment of vulnerability we shared a gaze. Mutual respect was won in that moment.
We both stood up, slowly, walking sideways like that of a Mexican standoff. I thought of my failed punch, the dream, Bloodthirsty surely was thinking things of his own. He backed away we lingered turned our backs and parted ways. It took some thinking on this but I realize now that Bruce Lee was in the Giraffe, and in my dream. He was telling me sometimes you swing and you miss, or it doesn't turn out like you plan but you have to keep going on because next time you land the perfect head butt into the sternum of your problems.
Later that night I went out and purchased a case of Keystone, because let's be honest it is $.0.50 more for the case than the 6 pack. I sat on a balcony of the hotel overlooking the wild of Africa. I hear drums in the distance and the familiar sound of bats overhead. I opened the six-pack and to my surprise was a beautiful pair of nun-chucks. I opened two Key Stones I sat one on its' side pouring into the night, while the other was for myself. I held the nun-chucks close to my heart and said "This one's for you Bruce!"
In the distance I swore the wind said in a semi Asian voice…smooth…always…smooth.
I can't explain why Mr. Lee was with me that day. Maybe it was because the cosmos knew I need energizing, or maybe it was a push form God to not be an observer put to be a leader. I don't particularly care at this point what the reason was, but I knew I was forever changed. I spent two days and one night in Africa all to punch a giraffe directly in the face. This is what I was meant for; this is why I am alive.
Join me next week when I throat punch a Kangaroo. I hear the spirits calling me to the Land Down Under.
-DH- Adventure Junkie
God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style; He just goes on trying other things.Pablo Picasso