With the engine humming and my toes vibrating against the floorboards, I sway like a pendulum from one side of the seat to the other. We take another sharp corner and I grab the handle above me just before my shoulder hits the window. As our tires whine in protest, our safari guide continues to spin the wheel to keep us between the thick ridges of mud as we wind through a jungle of banana and palm trees.
My eyes are heavy from the 5:30am wake up call, but when we whirl around a switchback and descend through the mist into the belly of the Ngorogoro Crater, I am instantly awake. The canopy of grey knitted skies makes the carpet of grass covering the crater floor seem even greener. A green so vibrant, it doesn’t seem real. A view so pristine, it seems like someone has opened the gates of heaven and ushered me in.
At the basin, we stop to push open the safari trucks’s roof and I inhale the smell of damp earth and the promise of adventure. For the next 3 hours, my fellow volunteers and I stare wide-eyed at the perfect stripes on every zebra, the sinewy legs of Wildebeest and the lions who lounge aloofly in the grass. Like over confident super-models, they toss their manes and completely ignore the foreigners jockeying for the perfect picture.
Even as I type these words and try to bring you with me, I know it’s impossible to articulate what a safari feels like. I can’t explain why tears spring to your eyes or your heart swells in your chest as you bounce over uneven terrain and fix your eyes to the horizon. It’s almost as if everything else disappears and every cell in your body vibrates with a sense of wonder and gratitude.
As I stood in the truck and watched the landscape of Ngorogoro Crater and Tarangire National Park flash before me, I pictured our first #FCAFAfrica program and my throat clogged with emotion. For any of us, experiencing a bucket-list opportunity is monumental, but for someone who has come eye-to-eye with mortality, a second chance at a lifelong dream is even more powerful. It is a reminder that all is not lost and that even if cancer stripped away your health, your former self, and your innocence, it is still POSSIBLE to have an experience that reminds you that cancer doesn’t get to be your ONLY story. Moments like this remind me to stay the course, even through the hard times of building something out of nothing.
If you are a cancer patient or survivor and want to know more about the Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation and how you can get involved in a future program, please scroll down for more information. If you simply want to experience the Pristine Trails safari vicariously, here are just a few of the moments that took my breath away.
More About #FCAFAfrica
This February, I volunteered in both Morocco & Tanzania with Cross-Cultural Solutions. Why Africa? After a successful pilot program in New Delhi, India, FCAF is seeking the right site to expand to another continent. We have patients and survivors in our community with big dreams of traveling to Africa. But, before I bring a group of patients and survivors to Africa I must first understand the landscape of each country to determine the best site for us. While on the road, I volunteered, explored bucket-list options for our future participants, and talked about cancer with locals in both countries. Now, our second group of FCAF participants is about to join me in New Delhi, India for our two week FCAF Program and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Taj Mahal.
Do you have big dreams of meaningful travel as a way to Start Fresh? If you are a cancer patient or survivor, click here to subscribe to the Fresh Chapter Alliance Foundation and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming trips.
Here are other ways to join in this six-week adventure:
- Follow A Fresh Chapter on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll see pictures and posts from the road and have the chance to tell us about YOUR big dreams and any ideas you have for our program.
- Spread the word. We want cancer patients and survivors at home to have the opportunity to dream big again. Share the photos or blog posts that resonate with you so someone else can feel like new adventures are possible in their lives.
- Not a survivor, but interested in following the story? Click here to join the Fresh Chapter Tribe. You’ll get blog posts delivered to your inbox. In the future, we look forward to offering programming to non-survivors too. Stay tuned for plenty of audacious dreams ahead.
If you know someone recently diagnosed with cancer or seeking support, please check out our ever growing #FCAF Cancer Support Partners Board. We’re proud to profile the work of our partners across the industry.Read More