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    Posted October 17, 2013 by
    Mpumalanga, South Africa
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The Africa we don't see

    More from rapunzelkd

    The Desperation Sets In


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     rapunzelkd lives in Riverdale, New York. She first visited the Londozi Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on her honeymoon in 2012, and said it was the happiest she’d ever been in her whole life. She returned in late August and took some amazing shots of the wildlife that inhabited the reserve. These are just some of the 2,200 images she captured. Her fourth photo was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day for January 15, 2014.
    - CYDFISH7, CNN iReport producer

    The landing strip: the happiest and saddest place on Londolozi. It is where dreams begin and journeys are started. It is also where hearts are broken and desperation sets in.

    My journey began in March 2012 when I visited Londolozi on my honeymoon. I set out just to “take pictures of animals” and as an amateur photographer this trip was a dream. Wild animals posing for thousands of pictures sounded like it was right up my alley… what I didn’t realize was that viewing the “Big 5” wasn’t actually being able to see the rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant.

    The “Big 5” of Londolozi is actually its heritage and the way family is promoted; its soul and the insane ability it has to invade your soul until it is forever changed; its joy that you can experience every time you turn a corner, in a song from the women’s choir or in an evening in a BOMA; its love in which you can see when you taste their food, talk to their staff, and especially when you witness their conservation effort to ensure the land and its animals will be there to view for generations to come; and most of all its people and the love and knowledge they impart on you – to make you want to be a better person, to make you want to change the world, to make you want to return. When I left in tears 17 months ago, I vowed to return. And return I did.

    I knew I couldn’t stay away long. After all, visiting Londolozi was the happiest I’d ever been in my life. And with life being so unexpected and short, I returned to the place where my mind was most at peace, my body felt most in tune to the earth that holds us and where my heart totally “melts into wonder”.

    This short blog is my ode to the Londolozi staff. They have forever changed me. My life is sweeter knowing them and I’m eternally grateful for the way they’ve shaped my life by inviting me into theirs.

    So on the landing strip this past Saturday, with tears in my eyes and the sound of my heart breaking over the plane’s propellers, I made another vow to return again soon.

    Now the desperation sets in, the desperation sets in…

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