The If Only Girl


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Elephant Crossing

We were surrounded by a herd of around 40 elephants last night. At first we just saw a few in the bush but then we realized there were many more. 

We’re at a private game reserve further east in Kenya now, and yesterday we may have been the only jeeps on safari. 

The animals here are not as used to humans. They’re more wild. This is a reserve dedicated to wildlife protection, not for tourism. Yesterday morning a huge herd of buffalo ran when the saw us. Hundreds of them dashing through their watering hole then turning back and standing their ground, firm. Stern. 

Even the zebras run from us here. The giraffes, however, they stand tall and simply watch us with curiosity. 

We went looking for elephants on our way back into our camp in the reserve yesterday so when we saw what we thought were just a few we were thrilled. Dazzled. 

But then we realized how many elephants were around us. And there were many babies. 

I was filled with a sense of peace and calm. It was almost overwhelming, being surrounded with all that beauty. All that majesty. All that power. 

And really- all that authenticity. These elephants are, as all wild animals are, simply themselves. They don’t wonder what their purpose is here. They don’t take quizzes in the back of Cosmopolitan magazine to see what their gifts are or try to ascertain how to live their best life.  

They just move through this world as elephants. They eat, they sleep, they walk thousands of miles, and they protect their babies and their families. And they love. Deeply. 

The herd started to get anxious after we’d been there awhile. One of the females came out and stomped her feet at us while trumpeting, telling us to stay away from their babies. A large male used his trunk and his tusks to knock over a small tree to show us his strength- his dominance. 

I felt fear rise in me. We all knew our lives were in the hands of our drivers. 

Then this happened. Part of the herd has been separated on the other side of the road. Almost in military formation, this group crossed the road between our two jeeps. Babies nestled between the adults, everyone looking out for each other. One of the females at the end came back out into the road, circling around to ensure everyone made it across, that everyone was safe. 

We spent a few more minutes with them, keeping our distance, and relishing every last moment we could just be in the presence of these magnificent creatures of love. 

We were pretty quiet driving back to camp, each of us processing in our own way the gravity of what we had the privilege to witness. 

Kenya, I will never forget you. 

Laura Foster