Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

The day started out rather quiet and calm, which was a relief since I needed time to acclimatize to the sudden change - from the frosty cold of winter to the humid heat of South Africa. I enjoyed the warmth of love, the sun on my face and a cool swim in a pool. You see, I had been taken to a place unknown to me right after I landed in Johannesburg. However, as noon approached I was told - with a wicked, happy smile - to get ready and dressed...a surprise awaited me.

Curiosity ate away at me during the long drive, but I was only offered one small clue:
"We will meet a world-renowned personality."
Huh? What now? 

After more driving we finally turned left onto a smaller road...and then I saw the sign on the side of the road: The Jane Goodall Institute, Chimpanzee Eden Sanctuary.

right outside the JGI SA Chimpanzee Eden Sanctuary

"For real?"
The only answer I got was a smile and a nod. For real.
I cried. 
I'm not used to someone who actually gives a damn, who creates memories and makes them the most incredible and dearest presents of all. And I hope I will never get used to it.

We followed Dr. Jane Goodall on her adventure. From the gray of the UK to setting up camp in the remote Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in her life among the wild primates.

We shared her despair when she only caught fleeting glimpses of the chimps that were frightened by the sudden appearance of this strange white ape.Then felt the joy and amazement as she won their trust and came to know the chimps as individuals, as she observed previously unknown behavior, such as the use - and even the making - of tools, which was until then believed to be a skill exclusive to humans. 

Jane Goodall brings to life a profound connection between humans and the chimps. Reminding us that one person - who would have never thought that her work would be praised as one of the Western World's great scientific achievments - can change so much. Reminding us that not only the chimpanzees still need our help, but so many other animals as well. The magnificent rhinos of Africa are only one example, but one that touches my heart. 
Time is running out and yet...there is hope.

It's one of my favorite words: Hope. Stay postive, keep believing...and do something. It's better than to slump your shoulders in despair. 

The man who opened my eyes to the brutal reality and absurdity of rhino poaching is Mario Saincic
..with Mario Saincic and Dr. Jane Goodall
He knows that time is of the essence for the rhinos and has therefore decided against the traditional - and more lengthy - way of publishing and self-pubbed his romantic suspense/adventure novel My African Dream on Amazon. Most importantly, he pledged to donate 50% of author proceeds to rhino conservation.
If you want to know more about the pledge and/or the supported organizations, please click here and have a look at his blog.

It was my first (yes!) and most wonderful Valentine's Day ever.

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