June 26th, 2015
“Safari” comes from the Swahili word for journey. We started our day at Mole National Park off right by taking one at 7 AM. The day before was another “safari” altogether, as we drove 13 hours from Mampong, located in the Eastern Region where our home is, to the Northern Region where the park is. It was a ride involving a truly unimaginable amount of potholes and speed bumps (think of a really, really big number and multiply that by 10), but paired with an equally spectacular amount of breathtaking views and landscapes. Needless to say, when we arrived late at night, I don’t think we had the energy to fully fathom the adventure we were to embark upon the next morning.
Our guide’s name was Robert. He has been working at the park for 17 years and has ventured through all 5000 square-kilometers. He took us off the main road and deep into the forest. With his help, we were able to see kob, bushbuck, waterbuck, guinea fowl, and (la piece de résistance) three majestic elephants taking a bath in a watering hole. Unfortunately (or fortunately because we were walking) we did not encounter any of the lions and jaguars that call the park home. On that note, something I heard time and time again during my stay at Mole was that animals will almost never attack unless provoked. In fact, ranger parties patrol the park on the lookout for poachers – in other words, to protect them from us.
The onslaught of new experiences doesn’t let you take a break here at Mole, not even for lunch: we were all just talking and enjoying some jollof rice (a local favorite) when a baboon walked up to our table, came between two of us (without even saying excuse me, might I add), took one of our sauce bottles, and just walked away! I think what bothered me most was that it didn’t even try to do it inconspicuously; it just waltzed up like it was the king of the jungle and took it, knowing we were going to be either paralyzed from fear or busy screaming at the top of our lungs (both happened) – the nerve! Along with warthogs, these baboons roam the property as casually and frequently as squirrels roam North Campus.
At night, two of us opted to spend the night in a tree (don’t worry moms, dads, and deans – our guide, Robert, was with us). Though we couldn’t see much because we arrived and left when it was dark, we never ceased to hear the gorgeous symphony of insects, birds, and the occasional baboon bark all around us. Upon arrival, we learned to build a fire as Robert told us local folklore. When it was time for bed, I could look up and see the intricate weaving of the branches of the tree that supported us, and I immediately felt its strength. Beyond that, I saw a vast, starry sky that could humble the stateliest of kings. I never felt so close to nature. In going to the zoo or even on that safari at Disney World, I can’t help but feel like the animals are there more for our entertainment. Here in Mole, I felt a sense of pure appreciation to be invited as a guest in a world that was not my own and completely out of my control.
It’s been great,
How the end of our time at Ridge and this program helped me narrow my focus
Finding the light in situations where the resources are limited.
A story about how my first OR experience changed the trajectory of my future
How I was able to see myself in the hospital setting.
How coming all the way to Ghana showed me where my passion is