Well, this is it. Today is goodbye. We’re leaving Telekishi to start our whirlwind Adventure Tour across southern Africa. I thought it was going to be impossible to say goodbye to this place, but for some reason it really isn’t too bad.
The hard part is hugging Norman and Malasela goodbye, and watching them wave as we load up in the bus with all of our stuff and slowly pull away.
Our camp looks beautiful, basking in the morning sun as we start to roll off down the road we’ve flown down so many times. Telekishi is no longer the strange little camp we pulled up to two weeks ago. It’s home now, and I’m going to miss everything about it (except maybe the cold showers).
I’m going to miss our sweet little dung-huts with their spotted exteriors and insulated rooms, the bright red walls of camp with their bridge-like passageways; I’m going to miss my Hadeda good-mornings and my sunrise breakfasts and our frigid morning wake-up drives. I’m even going to miss Roger.
As sad as it is to close this chapter of our trip, we have a pretty incredible two weeks ahead of us, and this is only just the beginning. Today we’re headed to Glen Afric Safari Lodge, where we’ll meet up with Graeme (our Adventure Tour Leader) and where, sadly, we’ll have to say goodbye to Kelly.
The drive over is absolutely beautiful, and I stare out the window in awe, trying to catch every detail of the landscape. As we get further and further from Masebe, the landscape starts to flatten. The Waterburg’s behemoths sink back into the earth like hungry predators, the tail ends sliding in and out of the tall grasslands as the range slowly putters to a stop.
The savannas seem endless. We pass countless farms and game ranges, their paths of blood-red clay and rock chiseled into the otherwise uncorrupted gold of the landscape. Kudu, warthogs, impala, and even ostrich and zebra all flash by in turn, spread haphazardly across endless hectares of grassland.
The drive is long, but in some ways not long enough. Soon we’ve arrived, and we have to say goodbye to Kelly. We each hug her in turn and she tells us we’re welcome to visit her in Cape Town anytime. After all, we are her favorite group (ok, so we’re tied for first, but we’ll take it).
Before we part ways for good, Kelly makes a point to tell us that we really have made a difference at Masebe. It may take five, ten, even fifteen years, but thanks to our data collections (and the work of other ISV groups, too), Masebe will soon be strong and balanced and teeming with life. We may not see our work’s effects until much later on, but that just means we’ll have to come back to Masebe. Back to our home away from home.
So to Telekishi—to Kelly and Norman and Malasela and to our beautiful, run-down little Masebe Nature Reserve:
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.