Tag Archives: Pictures

12-Safari of Life

Kob eating grass while experiencing fame at Murchison Falls

I’ve always wanted to go on a safari. I would see photos and hear things on TV that made it sound like an adventure suburban America couldn’t rival. True to its fame, it inspired me to create this.

Load up! Everybody grab their cameras. Is yours fully charged? Check to make sure the memory is wiped. We are going to shoot some animals.

Scour the horizon! Look for any heads bobbing up from the grass. Let everyone know so that we can all see and then shoot it.

Stop, driver! You are making too much noise, you might scare away that kob there. Plus, if we are moving, it is a lot harder to shoot it. Look at how frozen it is. Does it think that we will kill it? No, we aren’t predators. No, we are here only to shoot it. Don’t worry furry friend, you will see your family again. Just stay frozen so I can get a crisp shot. Look at the golden beauty: those protruding bones, brimming musculature, and life-filled eyes. Look at how proudly it stands over the grass.

 

I raise the lens. I peer through the viewfinder. It is just me and the kob. All my focus is on this beautiful beast.  My eyes lock on his mesmerizing poise and commanding wonder. He is in focus. All my focus is on him. Our eyes find each other, and for a moment we become connected, for a moment we become one through some primal connection. In that eternal moment, an omnipresent silence lifted me from the earth. I was back in Eden where nature was at peace. The life beating in his obsidian-black eyes revealed mother nature herself. Wait until my friends see this. The sacred moment ended almost as soon as it began. It was broken by me thinking about myself.

Click!

For a moment, my world became dark. The mirror had flipped in the camera so the sensor could capture the shot. In this moment, a wave of regret crushed me. I realized what I had lost. In that moment of blissful serenity, I choose to shoot, I chose to capture instead of absorb the moment. Some moments are too beautiful to capture. I have lost Mother Nature and captured an kob. I have traded Eden for an image, an image of selfishness. By disturbing the peace, I have acted against nature and tried to freeze a moment in time. Now captured into an image of an antelope, I own this moment once mutually shared between us. I traded sacredness for power over time. Beware all nature, for my camera will transform your vibrant beauty into a static image. Once people see the image, nature will die. People will look at this craven image as reality. They will miss the holy enlightenment I shot. For this hollow and corrupt facade is nothing compared to the light that shown on my broken heart from Mother Nature’s face of limitless elegance.

Look at my shot! Everyone crowds around the camera. The shot was so clean that my hands were rendered obsolete. My eyes could see such detail, that I didn’t even need to touch the animal.

 

Nice shot! I wish I could take a shot like that! Ok, everyone, its just one shot. There are plenty more that need to be taken.

Go, driver! Once again, the crew was on the prowl looking for its next victim. They scoped out the wild grasses and scraggly trees. They found many throughout the course of the day. All the animals they saw looked at them no differently than if they were a predator, no differently than if they were hunters. They were caught in between running away and defending themselves. Despite all the shots, not one animal died.

This is a short made-up reflection. I was inspired to write it once I learned that only 860 elephants remain in Murchison Falls National Park, and there used to be 15,000. Hunting and poaching these animals is absolutely horrifying. Photography is infinitely better, but still has its limitations. Coming here and witnessing the incredible majesty of nature has been a blessing that I’m so grateful to have.

The majesty of that moment! I did not have it with an animal but with the savanna. We would drive on the top of some small hills, and we could see far off into the distance. The amount of land and trees there was humbling. The vastness of Africa was revealed to me. I felt like i was nothing. My problems felt unimportant. It made me realize I am a irrational fraction of a bacteria to the moon. In the midst of such austere magnificence I felt my own loneliness, my own powerlessness. It gave me great peace. The problems we photographed and videotaped on this trip are bigger than us. They require a God-sized remedy. I am not responsible for it happening nor am I responsible to fix it. Not even God can fix it. He came to earth and wasn’t able to crack the heard hearts of the Pharisees. There is a mighty and inalienable evil in human nature. I can try my best to fight it knowing that I will fail. However, in attempting to fight the devil, I might become the devil. Instead of sacrificing the good that is left in the world, I choose to stand by it. I hope that God will turn the blazing world into a praising world. I stand behind God as we watch the world burn trying to save a chunk of it so that there will be something left to build upon once this evil fire chokes itself with its own wickedness.

A potluck of personalities.

A potluck of personalities.

Last night we had the privilege of having a potluck hosted by the Catholic Church. Church member were very generous and brought us all kind of native foods that I’ve never even heard of or tried before! There’s always a first for everything! Some of the foods featured at our potluck that I sampled personally were seal soup, moose stew (one of my favorites), fish chowder with white fish and salmon, hering fish eggs dipped in olive oil (very interesting texture I’d say), caribou stew, moose stir fry, and salmon every possible way you can imagine. I decided not to be apprehensive about trying the new dishes because how many people can say they’ve eaten seal meat? All of the dishes tasted amazing! Our Creighton group decided that we should bring some form of Nebraska to the table. So of course we made a dish that included corn. Everyone loves cornbread muffins!

Samples of all the food that was hosted for us.
Samples of all the food that was hosted for us.

Not only was it great to see the variety of foods that were brought forth to the table, but it was also even better to see the people and friendships we’ve made during our short time in Alaska all come to the potluck. It just goes to show how great this community is. Some our friends that came were Connie and Arvin who showed a few of us to their fish camp the other day; Brian McCaffery, acting Yukon delta NWR manager and deacon of the Catholic Church; Cecilia, a Yup’ik woman, and her husband Mike; Alisha, our friend and fixer; Stan, a barbershop owner and amazing person who hosted all of us at his fish camp, Susan, who runs the Catholic Church behind the scenes; and Sarah, our guide and former Jesuit volunteer at the Catholic Church. Not only did our new friends show up, but members of the church also came to help us feel more at home and gift us with more food.

After our amazing feast all the students including Tony and Nicole all went on a nice long walk after dinner to unwind and goof off at the end of a long day. During our long walk, I realized that our own group is a potluck of personalities. The group wouldn’t be the same without everyone. It also wouldn’t be the same without everyone who was willing to help us out and make our time here in Bethel memorable and one for the books.

It also really hit me the various things I’m going to miss the most about Bethel. I’m going to miss these late night 11 pm strolls while it’s still light out. I’ll even miss seeing kids still riding around on their bikes at night with nothing but one layer on while you see me with four layers on. I’m going to miss just spending time with everyone literally 24/7 and eating every meal together like a giant family. I’ll miss our attempts at “jumping pictures”. It’s random moments like these I’m going to miss the most. I do know for a fact these memories will still continue to be made even after we come back from Alaska. I won’t lie. I was little homesick a week ago (Yes mother I’m admitting it!). Normally you are supposed to feel homesick after you leave a place. Now I’m starting to feel the post-Alaska homesickness. It’s incredible we’ve only been here a week and a half, but I feel like it’s not enough time. There’s still so much more to explore and learn from Bethel. Perhaps I could continue this exploring and come back one day. Maybe by that time I’ll be in or done with dental school and I could use my skills here. No matter what, I see myself coming back to this place I can call a home.

Quyana to all that have made this experience amazing!

Goofing off on our late night walks.
Goofing off on our late night walks.