A Longing to Return

Jolie Abadi – a precious member of the Iconic Africa family, lives in the U.S. but returns to Africa every summer holiday to fulfil her innate desire for the African bush. Thanks to travel restrictions constantly changing, Jolie hasn’t been able to visit this last year and is longing to return. She has very kindly shared her heartfelt thoughts with us. Read more below on why Jolie longs to return and how @Londolozi Game Reserve has shaped some of her most beautiful childhood memories and forever left an imprint on her heart.

By Jolie Abadi

“This morning, as I was checking my social media like I always do – I got a notification that I had a memory from a year ago today.

Automatically I clicked on it, and as the picture appeared on the screen was immediately overcome by a wave of nostalgia. The picture showed the trees sweeping the pale blue sky that framed the horizon as the sun set over the African savannah, while in the foreground three tawny lions slunk low to the ground as they stalked their prey, tan against the dusk. Their ears alert to the chirping of the francolins in the nearby thickets, as did mine as I looked; it all came back to me in one photo. It broke my heart just a little, that photo of my surrogate homeland where my parents and their parents were born.

Every year since my first birthday, I have spent the summer in South Africa. In fact, I would not know summer without South Africa, where the stars shine brightest in the absence of pollution and the breeze whispers the leaves of the Marula trees. I ran around after guineafowl as a little girl and went out with the rangers to seek lion prints to make plaster of paris impressions of. I bundled up for 5 am drives in the open Land Rovers through the Sand River that crisscrosses the Londolozi reserve.

This summer, I would have taken a pair of more mature eyes, excited to make some of the last youthful memories of my summer with my family as I become a senior in high school, to that same game reserve five hours outside of Johannesburg. I miss the taste of coffee-dipped rusks, the smell of the sand and elephants, the sounds of lions roaring throughout the night, and even the shock I get when a lizard occasionally makes its way into the shower. Sadly, instead of writing this blog post from the comfy lounge chair on the Pioneer Deck looking out onto the river, I sit in my mom’s windowless office staring at a black and white photo of a leopard, longing for some sense of my version of a normal summer, back at my home.

But then I turn my sadness into reflection. South Africa still delivers her gifts to me, stuck in America, in quarantine with the rest of the nation patiently awaiting the end of covid’s awful second wave. This uncertain period of waiting is similar to following a pride of lions on the hunt: both require an abundance of patience. The twitching of the predator’s tail is like the ticking of the clock; full of suspense, anticipation, and a desire for action. In the end, the wait is rewarded by seeing the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime sight of Africa’s apex predator hurtling after its prey and accomplishing a successful take-down.

When I return to South Africa, my patience will be rewarded. The malva pudding will be sweeter, the sunsets more vivid, and the wildlife more breathtakingly beautiful. So, I guess I’m just going to have to mimic that patience while I anxiously long to hop on a plane and jet towards the wellspring of my happiness.”

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