Walking with giraffes. I swear that sounds like a movie title starring some animal conservationist that is trying to save the giraffe species. Well, that’s not quite what the story is about. Although, if that movie had the tagline, “Based on a true story,” then these narratives would have something in common. Venture with me as I tell the tale of walking on the African plains with one giraffe.
Once upon a time there was a gal named Jen (that’s me!) who lived in South Africa. She loved the country for its beauty, animals, and people, even though it was a long way from her friends and family in the great state of Texas. Her scenery was much different than her Dallas homestead, but her days were much like those of her friends across the ocean…shuttling kids to and from school, keeping the house clean, working hard to put healthy, home cooked meals on the table. She worked, too, but her work was where things were not so much the same. Everyday was different, and Jen loved it that way.
One day her bestest friend from Texas came to visit her in South Africa. They laughed. They played. They explored Jen’s home away from home, but the best was when they joined other friends for a weekend girl’s getaway at a lodge situated on the African plains several miles down a dirt road. There was a relaxing peacefulness that settled over Caracal Lodge, but the anticipation to meet Gerry was high. “Where is he?” they all wondered. I mean, it’s not like it’s easy to miss a giraffe when their average height runs about 17 feet. That’s five Jen’s to make one Gerry.
The four friends decided, rather than waiting for Gerry to make his appearance, they would whittle away the time by going for a short hike. Jen decided on that short hike that she was going to write a book about different kinds of animal poop. It may sound silly, but when you’re hiking down a remote path, it’s helpful to discern animal droppings so that you know what could possibly be waiting for you on the other side of the bush. Makes sense, right?
After the refreshing jaunt, the friends rounded the corner and there he was, waiting for them. Giddy with excitement, their enthusiasm turned to trepidation at the sight of him. He.was.so.tall. They could literally walk under his belly with the greatest of ease.
One by one they conquered their fears and stroked his patchwork coat. If given the chance to stand side-by-side to a giraffe in the wild and touch him, you have to take it. Gerry clearly thought he was like a pet canine the way he whipped his neck around searching for more love.
After their love-at-first-sight encounter, Gerry came frequently to visit the friends at their lodge. The new normal became opening the curtains to see a 17 foot beast standing there. On the day of their departure, Gerry stood across the drive in the field as if saddened that his newfound friends were leaving him so quickly.
Until next time, Gerry, you will forever be in our hearts.