Looking back on it, getting to Africa wasn’t the hard part, though it took me sixty years and five hundred of those little punch cards you get every time you order an African Dream Burger at Jack in the Box. The hard part was leaving behind the teeming mystery of the open savannah, with its mysterious grass and teeming lions and mysteriously teeming herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses. The lions in particular stay with you; you take off your shoes at the airport to find that they are still somehow full of lions, no matter how many times you shake them out. To this day, I can still close my eyes and feel the warm crunch of lions between my toes and it’s like I’m right back there in the Dark Country. Then I open my eyes again and I’m in the Light Country, because that’s how eyelids work.
It’s hard to say why I first decided to go to Africa. Maybe I was looking for a little bit of my heritage, because I had a great uncle who got lost somewhere around Ghana and I thought it was possible I might run into him. Maybe it was just nostalgia for a simpler time, when Africa was Africa and Asia was Asia and white guilt was what you felt when you made the first move in chess. Mostly, though, it was a primal desire to confront life’s little mysteries before it was too late. I wanted to see the factory where they build the sun every morning, and prove to my kids I could still take an Australopithecus in a bar fight. When you’re young and foolish, the whole world seems like your oyster and the whole oyster seems edible. Then you get to be my age, and even your oldest hobbies — tax evasion and insider trading — start to seem like work.
As for the actual experience of being in Africa, there’s only so much I can say. It was really hot and I mainly stayed in the hotel room.