From the tropical rainforest of the East Usambara Mountains, where three friends and I have spent our week-long fall break before going into the northern Serengeti plains where we will spend the next six weeks sight-seeing and doing research.
I am sitting in the most beautiful place on earth. Up, layer upon layer of canopy leaves. Bright green palmate leaves, shimmering with the reflection of light from the little pools between smooth, brown rocks below, little refugias from the river, gushing, forced, through two giant moss-bearded boulders. Two fallen bamboo poles leaning into eyesight. To the left, one of the huge river-gushing boulders, one ambitious stranger fig making root at its base and climbing, on its way to swallowing the whole rock. Vines, ferns, lichen adorn both rock and fig, as if aiding the tree ona mission to conceal the rock from vision. Mossy branches, creaking, transforming abruptly into dangling vines, roots, reaching to the pools, the muck, slurping up nutrients for which organism I can’t even decipher. Ferns gracefully balance atop the branches, explosions of green with leaves like plumes of a hat. Sunlight streaming in, speckling the scene. Through the opening between the moss-bearded boulders, above the gushing river, a Hollywood backdrop. Layer upon layer of brown and dark green, the shapes of the forest perfectly juxtaposed, still and painted. Stillness behind this living, sucking river. A maze of rocks, meandering, going nowhere, holding the shimmering, trickling pools, spinning with the current. Spiders webs, also going nowhere, clinging between the rocks, either ignoring the law of gravity or weightless, catching the sunlight more effectively than they catch bugs. Once or twice, a butterfly flitting by, weightless too. A forest living, but muted by the river. An infallible lullaby as this forest mystifies me into a trance.