I’ve been now following poop, tracks in the sand, pools of urine and smells for a few weeks. I never thought, that those things would ever lead me to happiness. Money, a house, food and a husband is what they teach us that should lead us to happiness. But is looking at poop and following rotting meat smells also gonna lead me to my way of happiness?
Happiness isn’t something already made it comes from your own actions.Dalai Lama
Are you still with me? Or did I loose you already with all that poetic, cheecky quotes?
Trust your senses again
2.30 O’Clock: Lunch-Time and let’s go on our afternoon Activity. Ready to learn more from and about nature. What I realised in the last few weeks – I am using my natural senses again. Smelling, Touching, Seeing, Hearing and trusting my gut feeling. Looking back at my time at home – I think I lost trust in me and myself. What I hear, what I see and what I smell. I just existed without noticing my surroundings anymore. Because my brain needed the capacity to filter all the social media stuff, all the advertising everywhere and needed energy to solve complex tasks.
Here out in the bush – our senses are the most important tool we have. Just stop for a minute and listen… You will learn a lot about what is just happening around you in just like 1 Minute. Bird Calls – yess – absolutly pain in the a** to learn 100 Bird Calls. But absolutly amazing when you can identify the birds just by their calls. Cracking branches? Always a great indicator for animals around. Such as Elephants or Rhinos for example. The wind blowing through the trees, telling you about the weather situation and that you should be extra careful. Firstly, when you are on a bush walk, keep in mind – animals can’t hear us which sometimes is a good thing, but also you can’t hear animals approaching or standing right around the corner. And if it is a shy animal you are surprising ypu are lucky, if it is a Black Rhino – well good luck. Wind also transports smell. Always keep in mind how you position yourself in the wind. Do you want the animal to smell you? Or do you want to approach it closer without it noticing you?
Use your nose…
Smell… uuh yess wind does definitly transport smell. If you are not sure – just come with me and stand in the morning at 7 O’Clock right in the line of the wind blowing the „Eau de Carcass of an old Giraffe“. It will blow you away. Well very bad smell – but also good indicator for animals. Maybe there are predators feeding on a carcass, or Vultures fighting for some meat. Where a carcass is, there is always a story to tell. As a guide, you can stand in front of a carcass, look around, and try to figure out with all the tracks and hints, what had happened here. Like a detective. Dragging marks, tracks from a cat or is it a dog? Only half of the carcass is left. Blood on a stone. Where did the kill happen? Who did it kill? And who was feeding on it? It is like solving a puzzle. With all the knowledge you have you are trying to figure out the story behind a lying carcass.
Get your hands dirty…
Sometimes you also need to taste or feel certain things. Even if it’s just to try a leaf to be able to identify which tree it is. Or to touch the dung (poop) – and really have a close look inside. What did this animal eat? How big is it? Is there hair inside or only sticks? Are the sticks cut at a 45 angle? And yes – this is a real clue for a certain Animal. Black Rhinos eat sticks and their teethstructure and eating habit results in little sticks which are cut at a 45 angle in their dung. And believe me. I never thought myself, that dung could be so intresting. It can really tell you a big story and it not just helps finding animals but also to get the understanding of their behaviour. And the best Thing about nature: Everything just makes sense. Everthing happens for a reason and lays there for a reason.
Look around – but I mean really look around.
One of the most important thing is your eyesight. I realised, that I startet to really look at the things closely, to observe everything that is happening. Trying to see as much as possible. You see an Impala running away? From what? You see a track – where and from who? Where is the Leopard hiding? While walking it is important to look where you are stepping on, but also keep always your eyes in front and around. You don’t want to surprise an animal. Eyes always open to see new things and find new clues on my track to finding happiness.
Sleep out in the Bush
What I realised, we as humans, are one of the most powerful objects in the world. But our senses compared to the animals are so bad. Our eyesight – I can’t even recognize some Birds through the binoculars. (Well ok, I am below average in identifying birds by eye bit amyway…). In the dark we are practically blind. Once we had a sleep out in the middle of the bush. Only our sleeping bag and a small mattresse, a small fire and like 2 people per hour making sure that no animal is coming too close. It was an amazing experience just to be out there with all the nocturnal animals. Listening to sounds and cracking trees knowing at any time there could be an animal that is intrested enough to come and visit our sleeping point. We did some night walks to the nearest waterhole. And once we just followed, totally blind noises. It was so creepy listening to those sounds without seeing the animal. The noises getting louder and louder, so we must be close. Our guide put his light to the noise and there they were: white rhinos doing their things… but it was crazy – the sounds they made were sooooo creepy and loud. But it was magical. Walking through the night and stopping every now and then to just listen if we can hear something approaching us. I loved it so much, that I didn’t sleep much and I went on every night walk there was. Walking – well I know Usain Bolt can walk Pretty fast…
We are easy food…
But when I am walking through the bush over stones and branches trying to avoid getting cut by every thorn, ducking and moving through the bushes – I just feel so clumsy. I feel like, as I just have learned how to walk. Tripping, and almost falling, and just slow and reeeeally stupid looking. And then you have all those antelopes jumping elegantly through it. The wild cats walking through the bush without any noise. Even Elephants you can’t hear walk and I mean – come on. I am so much smaller, lighter and I have only two legs. But when I am walking the same path it’s a concert of braking branches, stones cracking and leaves making a sound of chewing very loudly an apple. It made me realise, that we as humans, Always think like we are sooooo good at everything. Here in Nature – we are really just the easiest food to catch. Loud, Slow no camouflage and actually no survival instincts left. There you have probably the answer to why we need riffles. Because we would have absolutly no chance against a wild animal.
Trust yourself again
Trusting my gut feeling. Once a week we have a so called: Field Observation Test. Where we get tested on tree Identification, Tracks & Signs Interpretation and Birds Id and Calls. What I have learned so far is… you walk up to a new track with the task to identify. Immediatly you will think of an animal and then you ll start doing what you have learned, measuring, looking around for other clues, looking at details like claw marks or hair prints etc. And then – you start doubting yourself. You start thinking of aaall the other things or animals that it could be and you overthink. At the end you won’t trust your gut feeeling and will write down the wrong answer. I learned to listen to my feeling, of course also my lnowledge but to trust my thoughts and answers. First things are always the ones that are the most accurate. Our First Aid instructor always said: KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid! Don’t overthink everything. Believe in yourself. Well maybe not always…
Special rain from above
hahaha Once I just stepped outside of my tent… and I heard a unfamiliar sound… like clicking or something falling on leaves. I turned around and looked at the ground.. and I saw like a pile of leaves „jumping“ and I was like: What the hell is happening there…My thoughts were like – some jumping bugs maybe? Then I thought ah it looks like big drops of rain… But I looked around and it wasn’t raining everywhere… Just on that small part.. so walked closer… looked at the ground – noticing yeeees there is water dripping – I was like ok – is it really raining just at one spot? I went closer to the droppleds noticing it’s really not coming from the ground much more from the air… next thing I look up where the rain is supposed to come from. What do I see? The answer to my mysterium. Vervet Monkeys sitting in the tree peeeeing almost on my head. Looking at me how I try to identify their pee falling on the leaves… I almost got a peeing-shower thanks to my senses.
Well. my senses are getting trained – they are not perfet and never will be perfect. But I am learning to use them again and also working with them. Not using any calculaters, internet or my phone. Just what nature gave us. And do you know what is amazing about it… Every night at already 8 or 9 O Clock, after at least 6hours of using my senses and watching at poop – I fall very happy asleep. I don’t know yet, if all this poop, and trees and tracks will make me happy forever. But right now – I get a feeling of getting a second chance of seeing the world from a totally different angle. Using totally other strengths and features of my body. Learning from nature and just falling asleep happier than ever. Thanks to poop!