This morning I woke up with a new word in my mind, storying. I’m defining it as the act of listening to stories and storing them inside of you.

The story of Edmond, the owner of Go Discover Africa and an ASYV graduate, who drove us and is our friend. The way he feels saved by ASVY and pays kindness forward.

The story of Beck, our guide to the gorillas, his twenty years of being with them and having a map of the park in his head.

The story of Dian Fossey who spent her life protecting the gorillas and lost her life for them.

The story of the gentle Amahora (Peace) gorilla family, eighteen strong.

The story of Rwanda, its brutal, tragic history and the story of its movement forward through truth and clarity.

No story is without sadness and some pretending and some magic. 

When I listen to stories, a stubborn little door in my own damaged heart unlatches, and I am swept into new surprising places.

The story of our trekking in the Virunga Mountains included walking across fields of rich soil, acres of potatoes and pyrethrum flowers (used for a safe alternative to harmful insecticides) and the hard-working farmers, climbing across the high stone border wall of Volcanoes National Park on a hand-made ladder and going into the jungled mountains, someone hacking through sharp nettled leaves, sinking deep into the dark, lush mud, following the person in front of me up and up until we found the trackers who have another story. The way they stay with the gorilla family until they begin making nests with leaves and trees for the night. Then the trackers head home for a few hours before going back to that spot the next morning before the gorillas awake and leave.

Finding and seeing the gorillas is another story. The magical part where you and seven other people along with your guide and a tracker who speaks gorilla sit or stand mere feet from this happy, sleepy family. It’s lunch and nap time, and we are given the gift to join them for an hour, watch the alpha silverback lean into the grass and close his eyes, one mother nurses and grooms her three-month-old baby, young boys are in a constant wrestling match, rolling into and around each other in a mass of shining black fur. They are curious enough to come over to us swinging on a bent bamboo stalk, reaching for a sneaker or a hand until the tracker grunts a little warning to get back. About a dozen of the family of eighteen are with us in this small grassy opening in the jungle. One whole hour of living and breathing together (with masks on—we don’t want to get them sick in any way). Everything is quiet and present on this edge of real and beyond real. And then we leave, storing that story inside of us forever.

The alpha silverback falling asleep
This beautiful face
An adolescent male coming close to us and playing
The youngest – 3-month-old baby male
Two silverbacks before they lie down and sleep
Another adolescent male
The volcanoes
Our guide, Beck , in front of fields & volcano
On this adventure: Alec & Susan Lee and me & Ben

We head back to Spain on Sunday after an amazing month in Rwanda.

Stay safe, everyone.



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