As Jessica mentioned yesterday we all arrived safely in Livingston. Thus far our days have been filled with relaxation, the spectacular Victoria Falls, high tea, and the beginnings of processing all we have given to and taken from the past three weeks we spent in Zambezi. As we sat in reflection this morning, we were thinking especially of the moments that we hope to take with us from Zambezi, both collectively and as individuals. As I sat there in the grassy courtyard of our hostel, I was transported back to three adventures of this trip and the very structure of my life in Spokane.
With clean feet and a slight breeze pressing against my back I was transported back to the hot and dusty adventure, from almost two weeks ago, that has now notoriously been named “The Road to Dipalata,” which others before me have eloquently recounted for you in previous blogs. Today as I began to hear some birds chirping in the trees above me I thought to the spontaneous, side of the road tree climbing and road races that came as a result of a Land Cruiser breakdown and getting stuck in a sandy road on the way home from Chitokoloki. Finally, as I opened my eyes and they met the bright sun above me I was brought back to the journey on the last Wednesday of classes, with two of my students, to find the little known Zambezi beach, a place with the softest sand you will ever feel, and whose route included running through grass higher than my head and down a trail not much wider than my two feet.
While these three events seem to be unrelated, in thinking about them this morning I found all three of these adventures prompted common questions from me, “are you sure this is the right way?”, “where are we going?”, and “are you sure we are going to make it in time?” and all of these questions were met by the same answer “this is just a short cut, we will be there soon.”
The funny thing that I learned over my time in Zambezi is that these “shortcuts” usually took longer than it would have to follow the marked path or turn around and go the way one usually would. This little fact was something that annoyed me at first—as a person whose greatest loves include family and friends, chacos, coffee, and a stable plan. I found myself getting frustrated by the extra time or uncertainty that came with these detours and then getting frustrated by my inability to be more “go with the flow” or just embrace all that was happening in the moments that filled our short cuts.
It wasn’t until my last adventure to the beach, a little (okay a lot) stressed about making it back to the convent in time for the accompaniment dinner, that I looked up to witness the river just a sand bank below me and the sun dipping slightly lower in the clear afternoon Zambezi sky.
As I stood there for just a moment, before hurrying to catch up, the words of Robert Frost echoed in my head:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
While I was unable to shake the consciousness of limited time that day, I did realize that there may be more to “adventurous” short cuts than the actual time that it takes to get from point A to point B. I want to believe that they act as a reminder that things don’t happen in Zambezi or in life through taking short cuts— but rather through taking the time to slow down, have a conversation with someone, observe what is happening around you, and being open to the many things that come from this.
A part of my heart is disappointed in the time that it took me to get to this realization and my inability to fully apply it to an adventure during the time we had in Zambezi. But the other part of me is trying to internalize the feeling of sand between my toes and the sun on my back for the many junctions that life will bring me to as I enter back into daily life in at home and in Spokane.
Two roads diverged in Zambezi, and I—
I, am happy to say, took the one less traveled by,
And it truly did make all the difference.
P.S. We will be heading into Chobe bright and early tomorrow for our safari. There will be no blog tomorrow because of this but be we will be back Monday, I’m sure with some great stories to tell.
P.P.S. Thank you to all the friends and family that have followed the blog along with us in on this journey. Your support from a far has been incredible and I cannot wait to give many of you a big squeeze when we return to the states.