It was dusk and the tiny zoo in Naples Florida was about to close. My husband and I were on our way out when we heard a tremendous roar. It was very deep and guttural and resonated throughout the whole compound. It stopped us in our tracks and we felt compelled to backtrack to the origin of that sound.
We ended up in front of the lion’s cage and witnessed the male lion putting on a show for the attention of his female companion. Unfortunately, for the lion, all the preening and roaring didn’t work and he retreated to his perch. However, that unique noise he made stayed with my husband.
Thereafter, my husband made the noise whenever he wanted to assert his masculinity and it became a joke between us. While on safari in Africa, we discovered that he was more authentic than we realized. We were five people in an open air truck, making the rounds of a National park in Kenya, on the lookout for the big five.
Our driver was very good at spotting animals and quickly pulled over to what at first appeared to be just a grassy spot. On closer inspection we saw a female lion lazing in the green grass. Because we were in the truck we got very close to her and watched in wonder a sight we’d never see in our normal lives. My husband began to make his roaring lion sound, figuring it was an appropriate arena for it. Soon after, the tiny heads of two cubs appeared from behind a nearby bush. Eventually, they were joined by two more playful cubs, apparently intrigued by the roaring sound. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to observe these four adorable children play on top of and around their loving mother. We sat there for an hour just gazing and wishing we could get out to play with them. Don’t worry, although it was enticing, we knew better than to do that.
That was only one moment in what was a life changing trip. It has been my favorite travel experience to date because it was the most unusual. We’ve been in the streets of Delhi, Red Square, and on the Bund in Shanghai, but we never experienced nature in its own setting. There weren’t any buildings, telephone poles, or even roads as far as we could see. It was just land that was teeming with wild life.
I experienced a sense of freedom and a better understanding of what it meant to live naturally. I was so in awe of what I witnessed that it made me appreciate the beauty of simplicity. I felt like I saw the basics of life and recognized that underneath all the trappings in my life, it came down to the same common elements. We all strive to survive and we all love. That knowledge freed me from being tethered to the millions of little things that intrude upon my daily life. I needed to experience the basics in order to learn what is most important.
About the Author: Marikay Concannon: I live in south Florida and travel is my passion. I am a student advisor and adjunct instructor of Psychology at a private university. You can visit me on Facebook.