That's the estimated number of wildebeest that pack up their homely selves each year and trek hundreds of miles from Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania, over the plains of the Serengeti, and to the plentiful waves of grass of the Masai Mara, Kenya.
Sometime in May-June, these nearly innumerable implausibilities - yes, that really is the name for a group of gnus/wildebeest - simply turn tail south and start plodding north toward the equator. The way I figure it, there must be a wildebeest angel out there that gets to give each member of my favorite African species a little nudge and the migratory go-ahead nod.
The migration is a treacherous one; hundreds of kilometers over rugged, rocky terrain spotted with lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and crocodiles, finally culminating in the mass crossing of the swollen Mara River. Not every one makes it. Hundreds fall prey to heat, drought, hunger, age, weariness, trampling, and predators. It's not easy. It's not a joy ride. But it's necessary.
My angel's given me the nudge and the go-ahead nod.
The goodbyes have been bidden (most of them), the last trip to town has been made, the last curio shopping has been done. No more banana yellow Tata trucks belching their dark fumes as they slowly chug up the hills. No more speedbumps every ten feet. No more Citi Hoppa buses, nor matatus (hallelujah, praise Jesus!). No more baboons or warthogs in the ditch, or trying to sneak a peek into Nairobi National Park through the hedge from the road. No more looking away quickly whenever I spot a man standing on the side of the road, his back to the cars. No more waking up to 7am prep band, no more squeaky chairs in the cafeteria, no more snoopervision, no more lab planning or grading. No more tutoring, or Algebra over the phone; no more "Physics Phantom". No more "wewe!"s or "Ehhhh!"s or "Ay ay ay ay ay..."s or "Hhhhaaaahhhh!"s. No more dreaming of Taco Bell and Wendy's and Dr Pepper. No more shillings. No more purring cats in my lap while I type with one hand, nor Thursday night adventures to the East Central Africa Division headquarters. No more gym time, science building time, library time, computer lab time. No more party pooping at the Raymonds', no more string cheese with the girls. No more paper crafting with Xander. No more Tagalog lessons. No more raucous renditions of "Happy Birthday" in the cafeteria. No more Alvaro drinks or good-smelling fingers after Ethiopian food from Habesha's. No more sunsets over the Ngong Hills.
Farewell to my home. Farewell to my friends. Farewell to my family.
Hello to my home. Hello to my friends. Hello to my family.
I am not the one to judge whether what I have done here is important.
I am to know whether what here has done to me is important.
I grew up in Africa.
Now it's time to grow up some more.