Personal Journeys


May 09, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Elephants teach lessons about family

By John Murrow


Africa is a place where human beings take a back seat and hold on for a trip that they will never forget. I know my family and I never will forget our experience there last summer.

My grandmother took my family and me to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Africa we came to know, love and respect was filled with wilderness, culture and wildlife.

We spent the majority of the trip in Botswana. It was mid-August, and we were in the middle of African winter. In the mornings and evenings, your breath was visible, but around 10 a.m. the sun was blazing and the thermometer reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is what the locals call the dry season. Rain is nowhere to be found, and the aroma of sage fills the air. The lack of water forces the land animals to congregate by the closest watering hole.

While following the Zambezi River in the midst of a morning game drive along the Botswana border, we came upon a herd of six elephants. These elephants seemed somehow different from the other approximately 50,000 that freely roam the Chobe Game Reserve and are often seen crossing the river into neighboring Namibia.

I was taking pictures of the animals when I felt a sudden connection with them. The six elephants reminded me of the six people in my own family. I was accompanied by my grandmother, mother, brother and two cousins in this land that is so far from home.

The African elephant is an awesome creature -- large in stature, yet so serene and gentle in movement. Watching these animals in their natural element reinforced for me the importance of family and the simple lessons that life teaches: The older generation brings the wisdom and awareness -- essential for survival -- while the younger generation brings the curiosity and eagerness --necessary for prosperity.

These elephants that freely roam the African continent will, one hopes, forever be the animal that tourists come to know and respect. I can't wait to go back to see them again.

John Murrow lives in Baltimore.

My Best Shot

Gail Burke, Lutherville

Celtic crosses of Ireland

My husband and I went to Ireland on our honeymoon, and one of our favorite places was a tiny, eighth-century monastery overlooking the sea in County Clare. We noticed the place near sunset, while we wound our way over winding country roads to our bed and breakfast. As we wandered among crumbling stone walls and Celtic crosses, I felt an almost tangible connection to the past. How lucky we were to have found, by accident, this spectacular place.

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Doris E. Bernhardt, Baltimore

We visited the Children's Pool in La Jolla, Calif., and saw seals sunning themselves on the beach. The area is blocked off to protect the seals and their babies. A baby seal was nursing as we watched.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Mary Pat Kyle, Fenwick Island, Del.

Rock formations known as "hoodoos" stand as silent sentinels guarding Bryce Canyon. According to ancient stories, they were originally the "legend people," who were turned into rocks by spirits because they were evil.

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* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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